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Zoom aims to ignite the next era of communications

Breakout conferencing and collaboration company shows range of innovations will enable businesses in the post-Covid era to embrace change, enable hybrid workforces and grow their businesses

Zoom Video Communications has announced plans to develop new products, features and partnerships that it says are designed to empower and engage the modern workforce with connected workstreams.

Announced at the Zoomtopia 2021 events, the services are seen as being able to transform the trajectory of business and personal communications by advancing the way workforces connect, share ideas and get more done together.

Leading the offerings will be Zoom Events Conference, an event type designed to be made available in the third quarter of 2021 on the recently launched Zoom Events platform. It’s designed to allow hosts to organise multi-track and multi-day events in a sophisticated format, with rich functionality, including event lobby, chat, networking, sponsors, surveys, recordings, analytics and more. It’s designed to offer hosts and attendees a customisable experience with the ability to provide a connected virtual event experience.

Among the future potential projects include Zoom Video Engagement Centre (VEC), which allows users to connect companies with customers on video to create what are said to be engaging experiences to build rapport and trust, and share expertise in a structured and immersive virtual environment. With industry-specific solutions, Zoom assured VEC would offer the same cloud-first scalability and trusted video architecture customers have come to expect from its core product.

The Zoom Whiteboard is designed to act as a digital canvas, enabling real-time and asynchronous collaboration, with the ability to interact with the whiteboard similar to an in-person experience, creating more visually engaging and efficient meeting experiences. Zoom is also teaming up with Horizon Workrooms to offer Zoom & Oculus Team Up: to bring the physical and virtual world together. The goal is to allow users to access their Zoom Whiteboard and Zoom Meetings in the virtual Workrooms environment when it ships in 2022. With the collaboration, Zoom aims to let people immerse themselves into the Zoom Whiteboard no matter what device they join from, all while in a Zoom meeting.

With the addition of live translation and transcription functionality, Zoom meetings are intended to become more inclusive. As well as real-time automated translation, there will be an expansion of the company’s existing live transcription, with support for multiple languages coming later next year. Zoom noted that as it connects users across borders and continents, these live transcription and translation features will create new opportunities by bridging the communications gap across language barriers as well.

To foster a more inclusive hybrid, remote and co-located work experience, Zoom plans to expand use cases of Zoom Rooms Smart Gallery for meeting spaces by creating individual video feeds of in-room participants, so they’re viewed clearly and equally by remote employees. A hot desking service is slated to be available later this year, to allow employees to reserve desks and spaces in their offices using an interactive map and enable easy authentication to bring a personal Zoom experience to any Zoom Rooms or Zoom Phone appliance.

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To empower users to provision and manage their own encryption keys, Zoom is developing a Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) offering, with an initial beta planned for later this year. Additionally, Zoom plans to extend end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to Zoom Phone, potentially enabling users to upgrade to E2EE during one-on-one phone calls that occur via the Zoom client in the coming year.

In other plans revealed by the company, to optimise meeting workflows, Zoom Apps will be integrated through platforms including Zoom Apps for Webinars, Zoom Apps for Mobile and immersive apps to enable more immersive and collaborative app experiences.

Zoom Chat Huddle View will potentially provide a visual layout of channels to give teams a sense of connectedness while working virtually. Channel members will potentially be able to choose a unique virtual background of their choice, chat, easily see who is in the channel, and quickly identify if they are busy or available, bringing teams together in a whole new way.

With Continuous Collaboration, Zoom says it could be easier to collaborate across tools with tighter integrations across the core platform and third parties. With these planned enhancements, users could potentially benefit from the ability to share files, recordings and chats from Zoom Meetings to Zoom Chat for reference and collaboration on documents and integration with file sharing solutions – all without having to leave the main client.

“In the last decade, we have been honoured to become the ‘go-to’ video communications platform, but there has never been a more dynamic period in the company’s history than these last 18 months,” said Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan.

“With the ability to visually brainstorm on a virtual whiteboard and collaborate with colleagues similar to an in-person experience, or the endless opportunities of live transcription and translation services powered by artificial intelligence – previously considered ‘futuristic’ technologies are on the verge of becoming a reality and could reshape the way we work,” he said.

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