• A Closer Look at Crestron Mercury

  • Stephen Hill, CTS-D, Technical Solutions Engineer

    During my time at ESCO, I have heard no less than a million times (this number may be a bit exaggerated) that AV systems need to be simple for the end-user – our customer – to operate. As a technical person, this is sometimes difficult to get completely right.

    Recently, during a conversation about AV technology with marketing management at a Fortune 500 company, I had the opportunity to discuss “pain-points” in the way they currently have to use conference and presentation technology versus the way they WANT to use technology.

    During our discussion, I began to see a consistent pattern emerge:

    1. We – the customer – want our conference/presentation technology to work NOW.
    2. We want it to be self-contained.
    3. We want it to be simple.

    The first point is fairly straight-forward. No one wants to wait for a technical person to drop what they are doing in order to setup a meeting – whether it be planned or impromptu.

    The next two points may be interpreted differently by different people – this is where a disconnect often exists between technical personnel and end-users. As a technical person (or technologist as I like to humorously refer to myself), I carry laptop adapters, extra video cables and a “bag-o-goodies” with me all of the time. I consider this to be normal, but perhaps my view of normal is a bit skewed. Most end-users want to walk in a room with their laptop, tablet or smartphone, and not worry whether they have the right adapter. Or cable. Or whether the cable is long enough to reach from the middle of the table to the end where it needs to go. They don’t want to wonder what language all of the instructions are written in (because to the user, technical jargon may as well be Greek or Latin), or what all of those confusing acronyms mean… See where this is headed?

    Over the course of the last few years, a number of companies including ViewSonic, Sharp and Microsoft (to name a few) have made a push to simplify conference and meeting AV. However, in my opinion, Crestron recently brought one of the simplest, easiest to use and most functional products to market – Crestron Mercury.

    Mercury is an all-in-one unit that streamlines and simplifies small to medium conference rooms, huddle spaces and Scrum rooms. Within Mercury you’ll find a full-featured SIP-compliant conference phone; it can also be paired to an individual’s cell phone if VOIP is not implemented, or if an impromptu call needs to go from a single participant to a whole-room conference call. Additionally, Mercury’s included USB connection may be connected (with the included cable) to any laptop for Mercury to immediately become the conference phone and audio solution for WebEx, Skype for Business, Blue Jeans, GoToMeeting, Slack or almost any other web conferencing or unified communications solution. Mercury also utilizes an HD webcam from Logitech for video conferencing applications.

    In situations where web conferencing isn’t needed, but a desire for local BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) collaboration exists, Mercury has an HDMI input and output for connecting Mercury to an in-room LCD display or projection system. In order to keep things simple as people don’t always remember their video adapters or special cables, Mercury has a built-in AirMedia gateway that allows the wireless presentation of content from a laptop, smartphone or tablet via the room’s wireless network. Additionally, wired LAN connections for presentation are also supported. The best part of this solution, and what makes it even easier to use is that AirMedia works with Windows, OSX, Android and iOS!

    Furthering ease of use, the customizable touchscreen on Mercury provides simple power on/off of the room display in addition to controlling the functions of the tool… and the product’s features don’t end here. Mercury also has dynamic occupancy sensors, integrated room scheduling abilities, acoustic echo cancelling, Crestron Fusion integration, Crestron PinPoint integration (this is an awesome feature – keep on the look-out for another Experts’ Corner blog about this!), expandable mic pods that are used for larger spaces and more.

    Mercury isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t perfect, but it certainly provides more than a few steps in the right direction in helping to create a more enjoyable and productive use of AV technology.