Who lays awake at night lamenting the lack of a wireless screen sharing solution in their business? Not you? Really?
OK, that’s a cheeky start to this piece, but it really does underscore the relative obscurity of wireless screen sharing as a concept, and its value to a typical business. For the sake of clarity—in this context— wireless screen sharing refers to the function of streaming the contents of your device screen, to a larger, often wall-mounted screen. The intent is to share the information on your screen with others in the room, because visualization is proven as the most effective communications technique.
Since the early 1990s, we’ve been using video projectors and big screens to amplify the data on our computers. Now a fixture in every conference room, and many offices, the big screen has become the focal point of any discussion or meeting. And, while technology has enabled ever-greater visualization of data, the technology to deliver it has lagged far behind. Want your data on the screen? Here’s the cable.
Three key trends have paradoxically made it more frustrating than ever to project the data from your device to the big screen.
First is the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and ultra-compact PCs that have steadily displaced more conventional computers in a business environment. Hardly imaginable a decade ago, the popularity of these powerful devices has spurred the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement, making it commonplace to see them in meetings and classrooms. The problem with most of these devices however is, they almost universally lack any video output connector, so can’t connect to the screen.
The second trend affecting users’ ability to share their screen is the explosive growth of cloud computing, and the consequent impact it has had on the devices they carry around with them. In a sense, cloud computing and cloud storage in particular, reinforce the BYOD trend, as they lessen the technical performance requirements of the client device. Why take a laptop with you when you have access to apps and terabytes of storage from your iPhone?
The third contributing factor is the universal availability of fast, powerful Wi-Fi, almost anywhere, indoors or out. The near-ubiquity of wireless networking has again fostered the uptake of “alternative computing devices”, with portability at the center of the selection decision. We think nothing of making a Wi-Fi connection at home, in the office, or the coffee shop; there’s always a signal around. This 24/7 connectivity has created the expectation that we should be able to work, learn, and share our data anywhere, anytime.
So, let’s come back to that cable. You know, the one that connects your laptop to the screen using the HDMI input. What, your laptop doesn’t have an HDMI output? Can you even buy a USB-C to HDMI adapter? How do you share a presentation from the iPad Pro that has the report on it? It's not just mobile devices that can't connect to a display or projector, many traditional PCs also lack a common video connector. A whole cottage industry has cropped up supplying bundles of video adapters, tethered together so they don't get lost or taken from the meeting room.
A wireless screen sharing device replaces the cable, and instead uses the available Wi-Fi to stream the image from your device to the video display. A software app captures the screen’s contents, then directs the data to the screen sharing device which turns it into video and feeds it into the display. Suddenly, the last-standing cable is vanquished and every device is on an equal footing, enabling more fluid meetings.
There is another, more practical case to be made for wireless screen sharing, and it has been well established in multiple studies. Between 10-18% of meeting time is wasted, as users grapple with technology, trying to make their presentations. With multiple persons in the room, the cost of every minute of delay is multiplied, amounting to an astronomical estimated loss of in excess of $1 Trillion, every year. Every business needs to ask themselves, “what’s it costing us” to be without this important technology.