MicrophoneRecently, I had the opportunity to perform some programming work for a company boardroom. The system included an installed audio conferencing system with control through the touch panel. After some discussion with the customer and integrator, we decided to name the button for muting the mics, "Privacy" and the button for muting the incoming audio simply, "Mute". You might be able to tell by now where this post is going.

During a high-level meeting, some of the executives decided to have a private discussion while in an audio call. They also desired to stay in the room. So what did they do? They pressed the "Mute" button and proceeded to make some less than positive comments about the folks at the other end of the line.

I cannot begin to explain the phone calls that followed.

A little background on the system as it applies to this situation. Against the wishes of the integrator and to cut costs, the customer decided to go with a one-way touch panel (no feedback), no indicators on the mics and no indicators in the room.

In the post-catastrophe discussion, it was decided to go with a two-way touch panel, replace the mics with LED indicator models and place an LED at the front of the room. The "Privacy" button was removed and replaced with the existing "Mute" button and incoming audio is now never muted. All of the mics have mute buttons, and the system tracks the status of all buttons to update all feedback. It's sort of a hardware/software CYA.

It is a mistake to think that everyone (customer, integrator, programmer) will be on the same semantics page. And no one can assume that a boardroom will always have the same users. The solution is to verify and get approval for all button labeling and functions as well as install the proper level of feedback. This customer more than likely lost more in revenue and goodwill from this mistake than they saved on system costs.

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