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Modern Work Dynamics: Brad Hintze on Transforming High-Impact Spaces

Modern Work Dynamics: Brad Hintze on Transforming High-Impact Spaces

On this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast, The Futurum Group’s Craig Durr talks with Brad Hintze, EVP of Marketing at Crestron, about the evolution of workplace collaboration, focusing on the integration of multi-camera solutions in high-impact rooms to enhance communication and remote participation.

Their discussion covers:

  • The shift from ‘hybrid work’ to what is now considered ‘modern work’ and its encompassing definition that spans enterprises, education, and government institutions.
  • The critical importance of audio and video quality in meetings, where 80% include a virtual participant, highlighting the need for technology that facilitates clear and engaging remote collaboration.
  • The challenges and solutions for outfitting various high-impact spaces, factoring in room architecture, meeting types, and the strategic placement of technology to ensure inclusivity.
  • Crestron’s multi-camera solutions, such as Automate VX, which cater to a spectrum of meeting scenarios, from one-touch experiences to those requiring high-impact, dynamic presentations.

As mentioned in this webcast, you can read more about the research behind this discussion and the Crestron multi-camera options in the Research Brief titled, “Revolutionizing Conference Spaces: Embracing Multi-Camera Solutions for High-Impact Spaces.”

You can hear more on this and other relevant hybrid work topics at Crestron’s Modern Work Summit taking place March 19th, in Orlando, FL.

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Disclaimer: The Futurum Tech Webcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this webcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded, and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors, and we ask that you do not treat us as such.

Transcript:

Craig Durr: Hey everyone. This is Craig Durr with The Futurum Group. I’m the practice lead for our workplace collaboration practice, and I have a great conversation that I’m excited to share with you today. I’m going to be talking to Brad Hintze, who’s the Executive Vice President of Marketing from Crestron, and we’re going to talk to you about the topics that are really near and dear to both of us. We’ve talked about this in the past. It’s about multi-camera solutions in these high impact rooms and spaces. It’s a unique niche that Crestron has really established itself as a market leader here, and we want to really understand his thoughts and processes around this. Brad, welcome to this webcast. How are you doing?

Brad Hintze: I’m great, Craig. It’s always great to share a cup of coffee with you and have a nice conversation.

Craig Durr: This is going to be a great one. What I love about this conversation here, Brad, is we’re going to really key in on something that Crestron is really well known for, and that is high impact spaces. These are those rooms that have a lot of value. They may not be numerous in a deployment, but they have a lot of impact on what they’re doing to communication and collaboration. In particular, we want to talk about some of the multi-camera options that are available in that space. Sound good?

Brad Hintze: Absolutely. Sounds great.

Craig Durr: All right, well let’s dig in here. Hey, but instead of me talking, I want to turn this on to you real quick. Crestron has done some research in this space as of late. You guys in the past six months released a survey, results, did an ebook around this as well where you were looking at some of those challenges of the diversity and the dynamics of the space. You had an interesting thing. You chose not to call it hybrid work. Why don’t you tell me about what you call it and some of that research?

Brad Hintze: Well, part of the reason that we are, hybrid work is certainly a good talking point, but really we are moving into the future here in terms of the way we all work is the definition of modern work, and that’s how many organizations are choosing to work. It’s no longer about hybrid and we have to deal with all this return to work stuff. No, it really is, this is what modern work looks like. When we say that too, we are looking beyond just enterprises as well. It includes education, it includes government institutions. Really any organization that needs to or that has employees that needs to collaborate is they’re looking for how do you get that done today?

Craig Durr: There’s an element where I don’t even like calling it hybrid work myself, although it’s what people identify. I’ve been starting to lean into the idea of calling it distributed work. There’s always this idea that there’s somebody remote in a meeting. You guys have a really great stat around that in your research, right?

Brad Hintze: Yeah. I think that as we are on a quest to build great products that help enable work, we asked everybody what are the challenges you’re facing and what does it look like? One of the stats that came back to us that was surprising in one way is that 80% of meetings include a virtual participant, and that’s a very high number. That’s one thing that on the surface, okay, now I get it. Yeah, that’s totally intuitive. That even though I think the important point is even if this meeting right now doesn’t have a virtual participant, the chances that the next meeting does is very high. What that is clearly doing is putting pressure on organizations to enable really quick, simple and easy connection of a virtual participant into any type of meeting.

Craig Durr: But there’s challenges. There’s audio quality, there’s video quality, there’s difficulty in seeing content. Even in office, I think you guys have highlighted some other challenges about sharing content might be difficult or too many in-room participants, there’s distractions and what have you. It’s a lot of things going on making this challenging.

Brad Hintze: Yeah, I think that obviously some of those insights aren’t necessarily novel. I think this is something we’ve seen in many different surveys. Audio quality is very important, video quality is super important. But keeping people engaged in the conversation by showing that the right participants in a room is so critical. Because I’ve been in plenty of meetings with outside people where I’ve just got this bowling alley view and as a remote connected attendee, I’m like, I’m so done with this meeting. I’ve moved on the email or something. Because you’re not connected with the people that are a part of the discussion, and I think that’s really critical.

Craig Durr: You reminded me of something like that, and I am going to throw this in here. It’s a point that it’s worth making. Those bowling alley meetings are really unique because typically the most important person in the room is the one sitting at the head of the table, that’s the furthest away. You’re challenged with video options to make sure you can see that person. It’s the CEO, it’s the chairman, it’s the person you’re presenting to. Most modern setups in these rooms, especially these large rooms wind up having a challenge. Well, it’s very similar to what you’re talking about to what we’re seeing.

I think the remote participant factor is a key element too. The other thing that’s taking place too is I think what meetings are have evolved rapidly in the last three to four years. That you can almost categorize them as different types of meeting. There is discussion meetings, there is debate meetings. There’s meetings where presentation is taking place where you might have one talking to many. Where you might have two people making a decision back and forth. Where you want to see a key presenter. The types of meetings, it isn’t just static any more of Brad’s online presenting to me and we’re all going to listen. It varies from space to space.

Brad Hintze: Well, I think it’s a reflection of that’s how work gets done. Whether you’re in person or you’ve got these virtual participants, there are many different kinds of conversations that you have to enable and you need spaces that can accommodate those different kinds of things. You also need to make it approachable so that different kinds of meeting leaders and participants can leverage that technology and use it in order to enable their discussion or their meeting.

Craig Durr: You’re right. The other thing, and yet you were hinting at this, is the spaces of themselves have changed. One space is going to serve multiple types of meetings. One place that you and I agree we’ve seen this a lot, is in those larger spaces. Maybe auditoriums, maybe big large conference rooms, but you also have those flex spaces as well. These spaces actually have a lot of unique meeting types that take place in there, and you guys are an expert in that. You guys know large spaces and how to best outfit large spaces. Tell me a little bit about what you look at when you’re considering a large space. What role is the technology playing in connecting the remote participant and those people in the room in your mind?

Brad Hintze: Well, I think that the role of technology is to remove some of those barriers for the remote participant to be able to feel like they’re a part of that conversation. I think that in these high impact spaces, what you find is they’re often very unique and have different kinds of demands. It might be the shape of the room, it might be the architecture of the room, it might be the size of the room. All of those things are considerations when you’re coming in and you’re looking for that. You’ve got those physical considerations of the space in those rooms.

Then of course the meeting types like we were talking about. There are many ways that you can try and accomplish this, but whether you’ve got the physics requirements of where do you place the camera? Where do you place the audio so that you can hear, capture that audio and have that interaction? All of those are really important decisions that help you break down what is the best approach for a particular space and enabling that. Today, there are so many ways that you can solve some of these problems, and it’s great to have a diversity of product. I think we’re all fortunate that there isn’t just one form factor that you can use to enable these meetings. But I think all of these things come into play that will help you choose the right technology for that.

Craig Durr: Well, let’s lean into one and let’s talk again about the topic we want to talk about, which is multi-camera solutions right now. You have a well-established solution in space, the Automate VX solution, and we’ll dive into that a little bit later. But by virtue of that, that makes you and your colleagues, your product managers, your system engineers, experts in these multi-camera use cases taking place. What are some of those benefits that you guys talk to customers about having more than one camera in the room, capturing these snowflake of rooms that you talked about?

Brad Hintze: Well, I think these snowflake rooms especially, and then those really big ones too where you have a lot of distance to cover. I think that with a multi-camera solution, some of the benefits that you get is you need different angles to be able to capture the speaker or the presenter or the group that’s in that room to get them really clearly. Having those cameras around the room, whether it’s two cameras or four or all the way up to 12 cameras to capture each of those different angles is really important. Because at the end of the day, you do have to deal with the physics of what can a camera see and actually capture. There’s a lot of value in having the optionality to choose a different angle so that you get the best view of an individual presenter.

Craig Durr: Brad, I agree with you. From an analyst point of view, one of the key things I’m really appreciating is that people like Microsoft, Zoom and some of these UC ecosystem partners that you play very well with in terms of your solutions integrating with theirs, are actually really promoting this idea of multi-camera solutions. Now, if I look at that, I see two types of solutions in market right now. One of them we refer to as center of room and the other one we refer to is outside in. I’ll tell you what, I’ll describe the center of room for our audience and then I’ll let you describe the outside in and we’ll match use cases as well too.

Center of room is the idea that you have a second camera that pairs with the front of room camera, but it’s located probably on the table in itself, hence the center of the room. It might have multi-camera heads on it, or it might be a 360 camera, but it works to complement that front of room camera and it does some really good things in certain use cases. When you have a very long room, it does bring that camera down closer to those participants further down the table. It also creates interesting mic pickup points as well too so you can have additional pickup. If the person’s talking across the table, it may create the opportunity to get a good interesting angle as well there.

But what’s use case-wise these align with is what I refer to as one-touch rooms or one-touch use cases. A core idea is the idea that there are rooms that serve a mass appeal. They serve generic use cases where people don’t need a lot out of that room around the meeting experience. They just want to be able to log on in a one-touch experience. These cameras add extra value when there’s things like length of a table or people further away from a microphone helping that use case. Why don’t you go ahead and share with us about center, I’m sorry, outside-in cameras?

Brad Hintze: Outside-in, yeah. From outside in, you can go a little bit further, particularly in those high-impact spaces where maybe you have a very uniquely shaped table. One that’s not well-suited for the algorithms of a center-of-table camera. You can place the cameras around the room. I think the other scenarios where outside-in is also very valuable are those situations where maybe you have a whiteboard or you have another area within the room that you also want to have camera coverage.

That’s very important. Then also there are just physics involved with capturing the right angle of people around a room. When you have an outside-in, you have the ability to place the camera in a spot that will give you the very best angle and have a little bit more control over that. It’s good to have choice as an organization is looking for all of the ways to deploy this kind of technology and outside in bring some of those added benefits for those unique kinds of spaces and meeting requirements.

Craig Durr: I love that term, high-impact. Let me lean into that for a little bit for a moment. You presented some really great use cases. The idea that there’s a key presenter and you want to be able to set up a presentation zone, for example, and you want to be able to follow that presenter. This could be a lecture-type experience. This could be a town hall experience. That’s one of them. I think the other one that’s a really key use case is when you have a key participant. Maybe it’s the CEO or the chairman or something like that, and you really want to pin in one view because that’s the person making the decision in the room is probably one of those other great use cases as well too.

Then like you said, there’s probably great zones around content being presented. This is a hot zone. Let’s set this zone up so that whenever someone comes in. It aligns well. It really brings to life that term high-impact rooms. But here’s the twist. What happens if we reflect on my earlier statement about rooms serve different types of meetings? What happened if a room serves both one-touch use cases as well as high-impact use cases? This gets really interesting here. Because I think this is where, let’s set up an example.

Flex rooms are super popular now. A flex room in our definition is a space that might change its configuration from meeting to meeting. It might be set up as table rounds, one meeting. A lecture, the next meeting. It might be a presentation or even a conference room, the next meeting. You might have something that might be, I just want to one-touch, get into the meeting and have a good camera coverage. Or you might have one of these high-impact situations where I have a person presenting. It’s an interesting challenge, wouldn’t you say?

Brad Hintze: It is. Actually those are precisely the challenges we hear a lot from our customers about. They turn to us to help us solve these kinds of solutions. You do need a system that is very easy and flexible to be able to do that. Whether it’s a, I would just want to start the meeting with one-touch, join this meeting and then let it do its thing automatically. Or if it is like say a town hall scenario and you have someone there making sure the meeting is running as you want while there is that key presenter going.

But what we’re hearing from a lot of customers is they’ve looked at a way to solve all their small rooms and their medium rooms, and they’ve got that figured out at scale. But it’s these high-impact spaces that really pose some unique and interesting challenges. It’s really critical because these are often the decision makers. It could be the case too, some of these are sales demo rooms. These rooms are used to close really big deals, and it’s very important from a revenue driving situation. Presenting themselves in the very best light is really important with some of these unique challenges. They’re spending more time on solving some of these things.

Craig Durr: Brad, I like what you’re saying. Let me reflect back what I’m hearing, which I think this is what you’re saying. We are dealing with the idea that we have multi-camera solutions that might be ideal for these high-impact use cases. The added benefit is they can also scale down to these one-touch meeting use cases. There’s a level of simplicity to them.

There’s a level of unification within Microsoft Teams and Zoom that they work as simply as any other multi-camera solution. But they also have the caveat of still being there for those high-impact situations. Great example, sales presentations, key participants, content being presented, somebody moving around the room in a hot zone. It sounds like there’s a versatility built into these solutions that is probably a great assurance for an IT decision maker, an IT practitioner as well.

Brad Hintze: Yeah. I think that at the end of the day, if the participants aren’t comfortable using the technology or if it’s not working for them, then it doesn’t matter whether it turns on or not. These systems, especially a multi-camera system that has all of these options has to be easy to use. What we see frequently is that by default, it is a one-touch meeting. You come in and you do its thing. You use audio to trigger the right camera, use AI to frame people appropriately, and it moves between the speakers.

You get conversation and crosstalk happening and group framing. All those things happening in a very good natural intelligent way. But then when you get to a scenario where you have a town hall or you have a key presenter, the ability for either the meeting leader or a support person to come in and actually control it and say, this is the layout that we’re looking for, this is the mode that we want it to be in. That is very important to have that flexibility to serve all the various different use cases that might pop up in a particular space.

Craig Durr: I love that. It’s the automated experience as well as broadcast camera quality as well too. There’s another added benefit we didn’t really talk about too, but these outside in cameras tend to also be mechanical pan-tilt zoom cameras too. Which means they have glass optical lenses, which allow for really high quality image to be captured in these use cases as well.

Brad Hintze: Yep, that’s right. Well, high quality and in very large spaces. Across a lot of distance. Like a lecture hall or an oddly shaped room. We have one customer I was touring in New York City, they have this beautiful round room. It’s only for their board meetings. But it’s such a uniquely shaped room, and they needed the distance that the lenses could provide and at various different angles to capture every individual presenter as well.

Craig Durr: That’s funny. I’ve seen a similar room. It was the US headquarters of Ted Talk, similar thing. They had an auditorium in their space. I think they had six or seven cameras around that. But high quality to zoom in both for audience reaction as well. Let’s do this. We’re at the point that I want to talk to you and understand about Automate VX.

We are alluding to some of the values, some of the use cases and some of the key benefits that can take place when you have this outside in camera. In my mind, one of the market leading solutions right now is the Automate VX solution right now. Why don’t you tell our listeners, our viewers about it? Introduce them to it in case they’re not familiar with it.

Brad Hintze: Sure. In our solution, actually, there’s two core components. You have the cameras and then the Automate VX switching system. The cameras and we just introduced a line of new cameras, one beyond I-12, and the I-20. There are rooms and scenarios where you want to use two of those and intelligently switch between the viewing angles for a particular meeting. Really great for those one-touch meeting experiences. As you move into those more complex high impact spaces, Automate VX gives you the ability to attach up to 12 different cameras.

You get that experience of the automated switching using audio input and video AI to be able to frame people appropriately, find the right speaker, the presenter, the different areas. Automate VX brings that for you. But it also provides for you the ability to do different layouts. To do those different types of meetings and easily switch between those layouts, whether you’re using Teams or Zoom or any other actually type of conferencing system to go and broadcast that out there. Automate VX is a really easy simple solution to do that. We have many customers across education and enterprise. We’ve seen so much demand and interest in this since we introduced it 18 months or so ago.

Craig Durr: Wait, I want to lean into two things here. First of all, let’s talk about what you talked about layouts. I love this because we alluded to this. Give me a couple examples of what you mean by layouts and how Automate VX can help optimize to a room.

Brad Hintze: With Automate VX, you have the ability to say, hey, when we’re in a meeting of this type, I want to see three cameras at once. Always show this one angle for me. Maybe that’s a key person in the meeting. Then in the other one or two spaces follow the active presenter or the active speaker. Then you have the ability to design what that output looks like. That again, helps. It goes really well with these kinds of unique needs of a particular space. You can design these as you deploy the room. Then the person running the meeting can select those different layouts, either as the meeting starts or throughout the meeting to provide the very best kind of experience for the remote participants.

Craig Durr: I love that. This is on top of those basic use cases such as active speaker or group framing. The active speaker idea, if myself and someone that you and I know like Sam Kennedy, who’s very vocal, we’re across the table talking to each other and the camera switching back and forth. That is the active speaker capability built in, which could help in those what we call one touch use cases. Or perhaps an intelligent group framing of the room. There may only be three people in the room and 10 chairs, but it would probably zoom in just on those three participants, right?

Brad Hintze: Yep, that’s right. That flexibility, the automated flexibility just takes all the pressure off of the people in the meeting to worry about the technology. It just works for them and adds that context.

Craig Durr: I love that. That’s key. Then you’re meeting, then you’re collaborating, then you’re communicating. You’re not fumbling for a remote. Can you see me? Can you hear me? That’s good stuff. Then you dropped something also, which makes me think about the analogy people talk about good, better. I want to talk about what I think is best about use cases here. I did see the new eye cameras. You introduced them and brought them in person, ISE in Europe just a month or two ago. Beautiful cameras. But these can be set up in a primary secondary relationship. One camera works as the primary front of room camera, and the second one can be located where that person chooses without any additional hardware in between them. Is that right?

Brad Hintze: That’s exactly right. It’s very simple to deploy. It’s really self-contained between the two cameras. But it enables those use cases. We try to talk about this delicately. But those scenarios where somebody’s in a meeting and they stand up and they stand right in front of the camera that’s at the front of the room. It’s not a very flattering angle. But the secondary camera provides a better view. Again, it’s putting everybody in the best light. That one’s really important. Then the secondary one too, maybe it’s a content place, maybe it’s a whiteboard or a different part of the room and have that automatic switching. That takes that technology and scales it down to some of those medium impact rooms.

Craig Durr: Exactly. Then we were visiting talking about Automate VX in combination with this, which is the good, better, best. But for me, there’s an interesting one you don’t talk about. Oh, I would love for you to talk about. Which is the Sightline solution. Now, this isn’t just a camera solution, but this is more of a room experience solution where you are helping with how people see content, how they see far end participants and how they’re being viewed and heard as well too. There’s a lot of great technology, but it’s seamless in there. Can you talk a little bit about Sightline?

Brad Hintze: Yeah, so this is actually a concept that occurred to us as a team in our own meetings when we were starting to explore the multi-camera technology and we had a lot more virtual participants. One thing we noticed is those that find it very important to keep remote participants engaged in the meeting, then you’re in conflict with looking at the TV to see the remote participants while you’re having a conversation, but also looking at the people that might be in the room with you. How do you maintain eye contact and that kind of a conversation without excluding in a way the remote participants? If you think about solving that problem, it’s an interesting one because so many people spend a lot of time on the remote participant, but neglect what’s the in-room kind of an experience.

Sightline was how can we pull all of the technologies that we have available to us to create a room that becomes really seamless to have a conversation with in-room people without neglecting the virtual participants. By putting cameras around the room and displays around the room, you’re always able to have that face-to-face, eye contact, eye contact conversation with an in-room person and see the remote people as well. I’ve held several meetings in that room and it really does make such a difference. It’s a really interesting kind of idea and experience. Really ultimately, we hope it inspires people to come up with different ways that they can leverage the technology to solve their own unique challenges.

Craig Durr: If anyone can solve its Crestron. Because not only are you guys a market leader in these UC solutions, but your room control solutions are also market leading and your AV over IP. The ability to move those video screens or move the content on that is just world-class. I love that. I love setting this up for our audience to understand there’s this good, better, best when you have to think about the multi-camera solutions that are available from Crestron. Is that right?

Brad Hintze: Yep. Absolutely. We have a lot of content on our website. Actually, some of the fun and interesting ones, Microsoft just published their boardroom archetype, which includes, you can see examples of how our technology is in there, and so we’ve added some additional content around that. We have a bunch of new content around Sightline, a really engaging experience, and so you can see the cameras but also the rest of the technology that is leveraged to make that room come to life.

Craig Durr: Thank you for bringing that up. You’re right. Let’s do this. Let’s go ahead and wrap this up for our viewers so they can understand. We talked through some key ideas here. We talked about it’s not hybrid work, it’s just the way we’re working. I love your term, modern work. We introduced the idea that the types of meetings have changed. It’s not just about a static presentation anymore. It might be an interactive conversation. It might be a debate. It might be a key presenter that you want to pick up all the time.

How the rooms have also had to adjust to this changing dynamics of the meetings, and more importantly, we honed in on those large spaces. I love that. We were able to help our viewers understand the multi-camera options that are available. Each of them serve their best use case. Some of them we called one-touch use cases. Some of them we called high-impact use cases. But I think the key idea that I like that you brought down is that solutions like the Automate VX or the iCamera solutions as well can not only serve those high-impact meeting scenarios, but can also address those one-touch use cases as well too. It’s a very versatile solution that Crestron has brought to market in this space as well.

Brad Hintze: Well, and we tried to do that with one platform and one type of an approach. As an organization is trying to solve such a variety of challenges, they have a partner that they can work with to go and address those rather than trying to cobble a bunch of different things together to do it.

Craig Durr: I have to tell you, this was a very informative cup of coffee. I appreciate it. This was a good collaboration session. Hey, let’s leave our audience with a couple of things they can do. First of all, more information available to you. In cooperation with Crestron, The Futurum Group has wrote a research brief on this topic. You will find it available with links at the bottom area below this webcast that you can download this. All the information we talked about, including some examples you can find in that document. It’s a great way to start your education process about multi-camera solutions. In particular for high-impact rooms. The other thing, Brad, you and I get to see each other here in a couple of weeks in Orlando at the Modern Work Summit.

Brad Hintze: Yep, that’s right. This is an event that we are hosting to enable more conversations about how we solve these problems. Whether they be cultural, whether they be technological, whether they might be just a design kind of an approach. We are pulling together modern workplace specialists from many different verticals in Orlando. Hopefully some of you can all come join us as well. Craig will be there. Microsoft will be there. Many other really great and informative conversations will be happening there.

Craig Durr: I will be there with bells on. I’m coming from Austin, Texas. I’ll tell you what, Brad, anyone that comes up and says hello to me and says they saw this webcast, I’ll bring some very special Austin barbecue sauce for them. We got the best barbecue here. I’m going to have these people come say hi to us about that. Well, this is great. I appreciate you visiting with me this morning. Like I said, this was a great cup of coffee and a great chance to catch up. Everyone, I’m going to go ahead and wrap up this cast. Brad, thank you for your time. This has been a fantastic education session.

Brad Hintze: Thank you so much, Craig.

Craig Durr: Everyone, this is Craig Durr with The Futurum Group. Hey, tune in again. Next time we’ll bring you some more exciting information over a cup of coffee. Take care.

Author Information

As Practice Lead - Workplace Collaboration, Craig focuses on developing research, publications and insights that clarify how the workforce, the workplace, and the workflows enable group collaboration and communication. He provides research and analysis related to market sizing and forecasts, product and service evaluations, market trends, and end-user and buyer expectations. In addition to following the technology, Craig also studies the human elements of work - organizing his findings into the workforce, the workplace, and the workflows – and charting how these variables influence technologies and business strategies.

Prior to joining Wainhouse, now a part of The Futurum Group, Craig brings twenty years of experience in leadership roles related to P&L management, product development, strategic planning, and business development of security, SaaS, and unified communication offerings. Craig's experience includes positions at Poly, Dell, Microsoft, and IBM.

Craig holds a Master of Business Administration from the Texas McCombs School of Business as well as a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Tulane University.

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