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by Michael Shapiro | July 16, 2012

I don't know if the name of this software will stick once it hits the U.S. market, but I confess I love the moniker. NiceMeeting, a new software solution developed by the Russian R&D company Mera Labs, is billed as a presentation delivery tool. And it takes an interesting approach to making the most of attendee tablets and smartphones at face-to-face meetings.

For starters, NiceMeeting addresses head-on the issue of mobile devices being more of a distraction during presentations than an aid -- it allows the speaker to broadcast the presentation to each attendee device. That's especially useful in large rooms, where not everyone has a clear view of the screen. What's more, the presentation files, as well as additional handouts, can be delivered directly to attendees through NiceMeeting, and polling and chatting can be conducted through the platform, too.

NiceMeeting consists of a software component that need only be installed on one computer -- the one connected to the projector. Attendees are provided a link, so any device with a browser, be it a smartphone, tablet or laptop, can connect and show the presentation in real time. NiceMeeting essentially becomes a web server on a local Wi-Fi network, and it's secure. And it opens up other opportunities as well -- subtitles or real-time voice translation can be broadcast simultaneously, for instance. And the whole platform has the potential to generate revenue, as the display can be branded for a sponsor.

I like the approach NiceMeeting takes, and I think it could be an especially useful way to increase engagement with iPad toters. Mera recently piloted the software at a handful of day-long conferences, and the reception and feedback have been very positive, a company spokesperson tells me. The first version of the software is now complete, and it allows personal broadcasting, chat, file sharing, questions to the speaker, the ability to run through slides at one's own pace, polling and note-taking. It permits up to 150 attendees to view the broadcast in real time. (The next version, slated to debut in December, will allow for an unlimited number of viewers.) See the company's website to download a trial version, which currently must be run from a Windows machine.

The company is seeking to partner with other conference software and A/V providers, to offer NiceMeeting as an option within a broader set of tools. Likewise, NiceMeeting can be rented out directly to conference organizers or venues, with pricing determined by what features are required. The company is beginning to negotiate with prospective partners now, and is fine-tuning a free version with limited functionality, as a way to gather more audience feedback. Features in development include a mobile app and video broadcasting integration.

If you do give NiceMeeting a try, or if you've used similar solutions, drop me a line or comment here.