Better always-on: how auto-join improves portals and video calls

Portals and live video streams with no typing or clicking

  • Our always-on TV solution is a no-hassle live stream on your TV, which remotes also can join. Plug it in, and your Daily.co TV automatically loads the portal.  You can link TVs and computers, and mobile users can drop in. And check out our update about larger TV portals here.  
  • Don't need a TV? In a few minutes, you can put a portal on your own website or app. See that blog post here.

Our Daily.co TV always-on portal and video conferencing is built around the real-world needs of customers. It’s a solution that was asked for by teams interested either in setting up a portal to connect other offices and also remotes, or simplifying a TV system to always use a default meeting link.

Across the board — across company size, across use case — customers all emphasized no friction. Not just simple or easy. Instead, no friction. They didn't even want their team to click, to join the always-on video call.

At Daily.co, we build very easy video calling. In particular, Daily.co TV is our dedicated hardware system for video calls on a big screen. Working with our customers, we designed a big screen always-on solution, to address their pain points: 

An always-on where you just plug in. No typing or clicking. Turn the system on, and see your team.

To go straight to screen shots of what your TV displays during auto-join, scroll down. First, we'll give some context around always-on, and what our customers needed.

What’s always-on, and what customers requested

Always-on video calls can mean a couple different things.

  • Often it's a portal that different locations can join and see each other, all day. Teams leave the portal open and don't want it to close. If their TV is on, they want the portal streaming.
  • In a second use case, teams doesn't necessarily leave the call open all the time. Still, they often use one meeting link, and like the TV to join this default meeting link automatically.

A large screen, typically a TV, is central to both use cases. A remote colleague elsewhere on a computer or mobile can join the always-on, but the main workspace uses a big screen TV. It’s a better stream and a much better display in the group space. For portals, colleagues at headquarters can just look up and better interact with the big screen. (To clarify, our system works with any 1080p screen; it doesn’t have to be a TV.)

As great as a big screen portal is, it has to be really easy to set up. A manager often has to ship portal hardware to a different office or location that may not have IT know-how onsite. For example, many teams want to put an additional TV stream in a warehouse or field office.

Finally, crucially, the always-on has to take care of itself. One customer described his team’s frustration with standard tools: “They don’t even want to click on a meeting link.”

Portal managers voiced this need themselves. Not only do they dislike making requests of colleagues’ time, they also don’t want the stream's functionality depending on someone else.

If you're interested in how products evolve, we started fielding these always-on requests from prospects and customers of our Daily.co TV product. Daily.co TV is everything you need for TV video calls. In one easy package, customers receive our dedicated video conferencing device, HD camera, microphone/speaker, and simple cables.

The video calls also are simple. Participants simply click the call link in a browser. With these 1-click meeting links, there’s no download, and no login to join. There’s also no required login to get a link. For example, using a web remote control for the TV, a teammate who isn’t logged in can tell the TV to instantly start a meeting.

This ease and speed has attracted customers who prioritize usability. Customers started asking whether their TV could just be in a link automatically. To better understand the pain point, we talked with teams about how their remote teams works. The input was great and very consistent, and we quickly got to work on a smarter always-on.

Part 1: the ordering and setup experience

We’ll walk through setup since customers often want to know how quickly they can organize the portal. Here is what you do:

1. Get the hardware

Our always-on is a configuration of our TV product. Contact us for ordering details.  We ship via UPS or DHL.

2. Pick your meeting link (1-2 minutes)

Typically after we ship, you’ll let us know what meeting link you’d like to use for your always-on. This is the link your TV automatically joins once it’s plugged in. See the steps here (it’s a couple minutes, if that). To confirm, you don’t have to know or pick your link when you order.

3. Set the TV up (~5 minutes)

Set up is simply plugging in a few color coded cables. All sorts of job roles have set up the portal kit, like office managers, executive assistants, ops coordinators, remote teammates, and more. This guide is included in the shipment, and also online:

Set Up Guide, for Daily.co TV always-on

Part 2: what your teammates see every day

The system’s ready to go, once your TV is connected to our small black device, and the camera and microphone are plugged in. The last step is making sure the TV is on, and plugging the Daily.co device into power.

After powering up, a teammate can walk away:

  1. The system boots
  2. After booting, the TV shows a brief countdown
  3. After the countdown, the TV auto-loads the portal

Here is what you'll see on the TV:

1. The system boots

Like with any computer, when you turn the system on, it boots. The TV will show update messages. As a device built specifically for video conferencing, the box takes care of key things — contacting our servers for firmware and security updates; checking that Ethernet is plugged in; making sure the camera and microphone are plugged in.

For example, If you don’t have the camera and mic plugged in, the TV asks you to do that. In the image below, see the bottom right screen.

The TV displays updates during the boot. In the bottom right example, the camera isn't plugged in, and the TV is asking that the camera be plugged in, so the always-on can stream.

2. Countdown to joining always-on stream

Once the system is done booting, the TV will show a countdown. This gives anyone present a heads up that the camera will soon start streaming to the portal! Also, during the countdown, a teammate can tell the TV to join another meeting instead of the portal. (We can disable the non-portal option, by the way.)

3. Alway-on automatically loads

After the countdown, the TV automatically joins the portal. No typing or clicking.

The autoload means your always-on takes care of nearly all the work. If you like, unplug the Daily.co TV device at the end of the day. In the morning, when the power comes back, the TV automatically joins the portal.

Similarly, if a connection drops for whatever reason, no one onsite has to rejoin the meeting. The TV just auto-joins the portal once it’s back online.

Better connect your team

Working together isn’t a matter of a physical place anymore. Remote and distributed work is so essential now our customers think about the happiness of their virtual workspace. As useful as chat and other tools are, there’s something to seeing faces, and having a virtual place to go. With our always-on design, you plug in, and help your team feel more connected.

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