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Saturday, 14 January 2023 02:17

iTWireTV INTERVIEW: Owl Labs CEO Frank Weishaupt joins iTWireTV to celebrate launching its AI-powered, 360-degree video conferencing into Australia


GUEST INTERVIEW: Owl Labs, a truly immersive technology, has launched its collaborative technology in Australia, and the tech is impressive, affordable and very hybrid work environment friendly!

Owl Labs bills itself as the first company to build AI-powered, 360-degree video conferencing solutions, and has launched in Australia at last with the Meeting Owl Pro device, as the company continues to increase its presence across the APAC region to bring distributed teams together for more effective work.

Owl Labs products are used by over 100,000 organisations worldwide, including 84 Fortune 100 companies, however with 90 million conference rooms worldwide, and many more settings where two, three or more people can come physically together with one or more participants online, the experience of being in a group meeting rather than just watching is definitely enhanced compared with a traditional Zoom or Teams meeting where everyone is individually online, as you'll see demonstrated in the video interview below.

Pre-pandemic, the percentage of employed Aussies working from home on a regular basis increased by a mere 1% every two years. Post-pandemic, this has dramatically changed.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statisticsm (ABS), currently 41% of the workforce is regularly working from home in the post-pandemic era. As a result, there is a much greater demand for technology that creates a more immersive working environment - bridging the gap between in-office and remote workers.

Given the continued desire by many to continue working from home as much as possible, while also recognising there is still a need to be in the office environment at different times, the Meeting Owl Pro is an incredibly smart 360-degree video conferencing device, helping hybrid teams come together so virtual meetings feel more like in-person conversations. This levels the playing field between remote and in-person participants, allowing for "a fully seamless and immersive group meeting experience".

Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs says: “Hybrid work is the new norm when it comes to how teams across APAC and the world collaborate with one another. With flexible work here to stay, we need to equip teams with technology that’s supportive of this environment. Due to the rise of hybrid work adoption, we’re also seeing demand from countries like Australia for more immersive technology to bridge the gap between those working remotely and those working in the office to connect seamlessly.”

In the interview below, Frank also spoke about Owl Labs' 6th Annual State of Hybrid Work Report 2022, which surveyed over 2,300 full-time U.S. workers in July 2022 to learn their preferences, requirements, concerns, and more - when it comes to all-things work: in-office, remote, and hybrid.

Frank joined iTWireTV to give us a demo of the Owl Labs experience, and explain the company to us in more detail, which that video interview embedded immediately below, followed by more information on the company, its products and services, and a summary of the topics we spoke about in the interview, so please watch and read on!

So, how does an Owl Labs meeting work, using whichever meeting software and environment you choose, be it Zoom, Teams, or anything else?

Well, you'll see it in the video above, but Owl Labs’ flagship product, the Meeting Owl Pro, is powered by proprietary AI technology that automatically focuses on whoever is speaking, using audio and visual cues. It creates the experience of in-person participation for hybrid teams and integrates seamlessly with existing video conferencing platforms including Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Slack, GoToMeeting, Bluejeans, etc.

“We’ve developed the Meeting Owl Pro with a hybrid working environment in mind. The device is specifically designed to ensure every meeting participant has a seat at the physical and virtual table. Our aim is to reinforce a feeling of inclusivity, irrespective of physical location, so whoever needs to join remotely isn’t at a disadvantage,” continued Weishaupt.

Attendees of video calls using the Meeting Owl see a 360-degree view of the room, along with up to three panels that dynamically zoom in on participants who are actively speaking or moving. Due to its plug-and-play design, it takes less than six minutes from unboxing to the first meeting, and it can be set up 3x faster than competitors’ products.

See the Meeting Owl Pro in action in the video here. Customers can now purchase the Meeting Owl Pro for $1,699 AUD, via the Own Labs site here

Here's a summary of the topics we spoke about:

  • I started by introducing Frank, and asked him to introduce Owl Labs to us, and give us a demo of the Owl Labs experience.

  • Next, we spoke about the continued growth of video conferencing and the hybrid working reality, and ideas that customers have given Owl Labs to improve its products and services.

  • Frank explained how Owl Labs' tech is compatible with all of the modern video conferencing platforms, and the decision behind opening up a direct Australian presence, followed by Frank's expectations of how Owl Labs should grow over the next couple of years.

  • We then delved into what the industry might look like in a decade's time when the metaverse should be everywhere, followed by a bit about Frank's history in the world of tech, memories of his first computer, memories of his first video call, great advice received in life, and Frank's final message to iTWire viewers and readers, and to his current and future customers and partners.

So, to learn more about Owl Labs, please watch the video interview with Frank Weishaupt above!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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