Imagine a reverberant cave with two people trying to talk to each other at a certain distance. Speech intelligibility is not great, as the occurring speech is permanently being acoustically covered (‘masked’) by reflected sound energy (‘reverberation’) off all surfaces, therefore making it difficult to follow a conversation.
From intuition, it is clear how to improve speech intelligibility within this setup – speaking slowly and getting closer to each other will certainly help, but also filling the cave with many bags of sand would clearly be an advantage, as it minimizes reflections off the surrounding surfaces.
This very same effect is true for modern remote collaboration setups – instead of sand bags we might use aesthetically pleasing absorbers in the format of ceiling or wall mounted panels – but the principle of limiting the reflections off surfaces is the correct approach (assuming that nobody wants to ta-a-h-h-l-k slo-o-o-w-ly-y). While this certainly optimizes the situation for the local meeting room, the effect for the remote meeting room is even more significant, as the echo cancelling process can be undertaken much more accurate and distortion-less if the reverberation is decreased.
Watch the Case Study – ZURICH AIRPORT Video – 9 mins.