Canon recently hosted sales and technical staff from dealer partners along with select analysts and media in Atlanta, Georgia, focusing on a rapidly changing world and how dealers can leverage Canon’s existing portfolio to adapt. Nathaniel Horenstein, Channel Sales Manager of the South Region for Canon USA said it best: we are in a new world, but we’ve all got the same job to do.
But beyond Canon’s traditional imaging hardware and cloud-based device, workflow, and information management solutions, Canon had a few newer technologies on display—tools that dealers can use to get their foot in the door at new accounts or to increase their sales in existing accounts.
Even after COVID is over, it’d be foolish to expect that hybrid working will go away. According to Horenstein, 53% of workers will be hybrid going forward. Since Teams meetings — and the issues, like the unequal, unengaging experience for remote meeting attendants, that go along with them — aren’t going anywhere, businesses need to bridge the physical divide between meeting participants.
That’s where Activate My Line of Site (AMLOS) comes into the picture. AMLOS is a two-pronged solution that combines Canon’s imaging technology with AI-powered software to create an immersive, engaging user experience for remote meeting participants.
The first prong — a camera that captures three video streams — is installed in a conference room. The camera is smart enough to follow a presenter, and it can interpret specific hand signals to make it easy for presenters to run meetings. For example, giving a thumbs up starts a meeting, and sends an invite to the presenter (who can then forward it to others). You can also use hand gestures to “spotlight” an object like a whiteboard. The camera will recognize and present remote viewers with a zoomed-in, cropped image of the spotlighted object. There are other hand gestures to end the meeting, and to capture an image of a spotlighted object (like a whiteboard) and send it to the chat. That way, you don’t have to worry about grabbing an image of something you collaborated on.
The second prong—a virtual environment where remote workers participate in the meeting—is accessible through any browser. Remote meeting attendants are able to customize up to three video streams, so they can focus and interact with different areas of the room. They can use one stream to show the entire room, a second to focus on the presenter, and a third to focus on some spotlighted object, like a white board. Remote users can zoom and pan on specific areas of the room or spotlighted objects, so they can focus on what’s important to them.
The solution currently works with Microsoft Teams, and Canon said they are working on integrating the solution with other popular remote meeting solutions, like Zoom.
Definitely not some glorified Roomba, Whiz is a commercial robot vacuum built on an AI platform. Whiz isn’t meant to revolutionize building services and replace entire cleaning crews. But it can supplement an existing cleaning staff, eliminating the terribly mundane process of vacuuming a large space. Take a hotel ballroom, for example. After an event, hundreds of square feet need to be cleaned, which can take hours. This takes attention away from densely populated areas and high-touch surfaces. Plus, the mundane nature of vacuuming so much space will undoubtedly lead to patches of carpet not getting cleaned from time to time.
Whiz solves these problems. Once it has been trained to clean an area, it’s a set it and forget it solution. The device will vacuum the floor—using sensors to dodge objects impeding its route—and return to its charging base when it’s done. The device also collects a bevy of data and can call out for help if it runs into a problem.
Looking at it with a less practical eye, the Whiz does provide some superficial benefits. It allows customers to make a statement about their own business — ”we are high tech, innovative, and living on the bleeding edge — have you seen our robot vacuum?” This benefit extends to dealers, too. Even if you don’t sell a ton of units, it’s something interesting you can talk about with clients. A conversation about robots and AI that leads to a discussion about ways you can help your customers and prospects is better than no conversation at all.
Canon showcased three different types of specialty printers: three for labels, three for ID cards, and two for wire sleeves and tags. These are not new technologies for Canon. But up until now, the devices Canon had on display during the Roadshow were not sold through their B2B channel partners. The name of the game with these printers is to help customers bring their outsourced printing tasks in-house. The label and ID card printer can print in 1200 dpi to label and ID card substrates that work with ink, including those that are waterproof. The wire and sleeve printer is more niche, targeting electricians and IT departments that have a lot of wires and cables to manage.
As print declines, Canon, along with the rest of the industry, is evolving and adapting to our new environment. Canon is still very much a print company. But they are also a digital transformation organization. With tools like uniFLOW and Therefore and capture technology from IRIS, Canon has a lot of the tools in addition to print that pique their clients’ interests—be it an automated meeting room solution, a robotic vacuum, or an ID card printer. It’s great to see manufacturers getting behind their channel partners—especially during periods of turbulence.
Patricia Ames is president and senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 15 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community.