Until recently, AV touch panels were tailored for very specific use needs, requiring distributors and dealers to stock unique SKUs and integrators to memorize extensive model lists. That was until AMX introduced Varia, persona-defined touch panels that changed the way the world thought about and interacted with enterprise panels. Varia addressed customers’ needs differently with persona apps that define the entire panel experience.
As part of an ongoing series, we’re talking to the AMX team to get their insight on some of the latest capabilities of each of the Varia pre-loaded persona apps. We’re kicking off the Series with AMX Book Room Scheduling, the persona that greatly simplifies room scheduling for meeting space users and eases management for facility managers. Rob Norton, Product Manager for User Interfaces at HARMAN Professional sat down with us to share some of the newest enhancements and how to get the most out of the app.
For those new to Book Scheduling, could you share some of the benefits it provides?
Book Scheduling is an app running on Varia panels that creates a stand-alone touch panel solution meant to be mounted outside a meeting space. It was designed to offer simple, immediate access to the schedule for that room.
Side LEDs and the UI both change color to indicate whether the room is in use, so they make it easy to find an available room when you need one. There is no programming required to set them up and there is no extra hardware needed to make them work.
“One differentiating feature from which we’ve received a lot of positive feedback is Room Grouping. If you’re standing outside a room that’s currently booked, simply touch the ‘Browse Rooms’ button to locate and book the closest available room.”
Most meetings are held online these days, which is great when you’re not in the office. But what’s worse than dialing in from your cubicle only to speak with someone at a desk a few rows over? In my office for example, if a few of us are in the office on the same day, we’d much rather meet in a conference room. Inevitably though, that means we’re looking for a conference room at the last minute. Being able to look down the hall, spot that a room is open for the time we need, and book it in seconds, right from the panel, helps make using the office a much more efficient and productive activity.
Dive Deeper: Watch the Book Scheduling Overview
What’s different about the way Book Scheduling works on Varia touch panels?
We introduced our first scheduling panel at InfoComm in 2015. Since then, we’ve released several different versions, but Varia has introduced the biggest updates, both in hardware and software.
On the hardware side, the biggest change is that there are new size options. Since any Varia panel can be configured as a Book Scheduling panel, there are now 8”, 10”, and 15.6” landscape options and a 5.5” portrait option. The 5.5” panel is great for smaller meeting areas where wall space may be at a premium. It’s a very cost-effective option for many spaces. Additionally, the side LEDs on Varia panels are larger and more vibrant and all four sizes can be mounted on a wall, glass, or other smooth surface with the included mounting bracket.
On the software side, the most obvious change is the way we’ve simplified the setup process. We’ve added a configuration wizard to the panel setup screens so that even a technician who has never seen an AMX panel before can configure the panel easily. Varia panels also work with our Manager software. This allows an admin to configure or update all of their panels in bulk. Of course, the panel has also been updated to leverage all of the latest advancements in software security. This new panel supports Modern Authentication, which makes it the most secure panel available. It can also seamlessly connect to Microsoft Exchange Online (Microsoft365), Microsoft Exchange Server (On-Prem), or Google Calendar.
What sets Book Scheduling apart from other products in the market?
Since launching our first scheduling panels in 2015, there have been many entrants into the market that have tried to emulate what our panels provide. Many use consumer-grade hardware with aftermarket mounting systems.
In contrast, AMX panels were designed from day one, with enterprise-grade hardware and military-grade security. Our panels are also designed to mount very cleanly and seamlessly to blend in with today’s modern interiors. We also tried to determine what panel sizes would be most used and useful so customers could choose the most appropriate panel size and orientation for their specific space.
One differentiating feature from which we’ve received a lot of positive feedback is Room Grouping. If you’re standing outside a room that’s currently booked, simply touch the ‘Browse Rooms’ button to locate and book the closest available room. This can all be done right from the touch panel that you’re standing in front of. There’s no need to walk around hunting for an available room and wasting valuable time. You also won’t have to worry that someone else might book the room while you’re in transit.
Then again, on the software side, between the simple configuration wizard and our Manager software for making bulk updates, our panels are some of the easiest on the market to install and maintain.
How simple is it to get these panels configured and scheduling rooms?
Book Scheduling is a solution that’s easy to install and manage whether you have one panel or hundreds of them. All you need to make it work with your scheduling software is the panel, there’s no programming or other hardware required.
With the updated hardware and software now available in Varia panels, you can rest assured that this is a solution that will keep up with the changes your scheduling software platform might make in the coming years. And we’re excited to be working on a few new features that will allow the App to grow and expand even further and I look forward to sharing those details in a future discussion.
Do clients have to use the Book Scheduling App to utilize Varia panels for scheduling?
I’m glad you asked. One of the key design considerations for Varia panels was the vision to make them as versatile as possible. We want them to be whatever you need them to be regardless of whether one of our pre-loaded apps solves that need or something else. The Book Scheduling app is just one of several ways that Varia panels can connect to remote scheduling platforms like Exchange.
Thanks to their app-based architecture, Varia panels can run just about any third-party scheduling Android or Web app. The Zoom Rooms Controller app for example, comes pre-installed, so anyone using Zoom Rooms can configure their Varia panels as Zoom Rooms scheduling displays. We have also collaborated with several software companies through our Varia Persona Partner Program to enhance the platform further. Some of these partners include DoorTablet, 22Miles, UMA, and IndoorFinders. They are working with us to ensure that their software and our hardware are optimized to work smoothly together.
Whether you need an intuitive scheduling panel solution, dedicated Zoom Room control interfaces, the ability to access your own web applications, or want to expand or upgrade an existing AMX Modero G5 touch panel environment, the new Varia panels combine secure, reliable performance, unmatched flexibility, and unparalleled ease of installation and configuration – all packaged in a precision industrial design. We invite you to explore the many additional possibilities that Book Scheduling and Varia Touch Panels open for integrators and users.
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