|Back To The Future
BY THOMAS FEHR
You have probably seen "Back to the Future Part II," where in
the year 2015 Marty McFly receives a video call from his boss in which he
is promptly fired. The call, which looked and sounded perfect, came to
Marty's house through a large-screen TV while Marty's son was surfing
channels. This movie, which was once futuristic, is not so futuristic
Video conferencing, set-top boxes, DSL. Imagine these three
"technology gambles" coming together to deliver true Internet
video communications. Well, welcome to the future. Full-motion,
synchronized video and audio communications, once a fantasy and creation
of Hollywood, are now a reality for the business and home.
TRENDS OF TOMORROW
Businesses are pushing for the latest technology in video conferencing and
video streaming to enable them to communicate and compete on a global
basis. As more companies expand around the world, they want to communicate
face-to-face and conduct training for personnel in other parts of the
world, without the expense of traveling.
Education institutions want to offer students the ability to take a
class from a remote campus, possibly even an international class with a
professor located in another country. Medical personnel would like to be
able to offer personal medical attention to patients by making virtual
At home, individuals have been experimenting with placing telephone
calls over the Internet and browsing the Web through their TVs. With new
Internet appliances, these two technologies can come together to offer
audio and video calls over the Internet, video e-mail, and video streaming
from a set-top box connected to the TV.
Cahners In-Stat reports that the home networking market, which grew by
18 percent in the third quarter of 1999, will continue growing and that
integration will take place between the broadband providers and home
networking technology providers. As broadband providers continue to
compete for access opportunities in the home, they will begin to bundle a
variety of Internet appliances and other unique technologies with their
services to give them an edge over other providers.
TECHNOLOGY OF TODAY
Analysts have long been predicting that video conferencing would be the
next killer application if certain technology requirements could be met,
the first being bandwidth. Bandwidth no longer remains an issue. With
broadband connection options such as optical, fiber to the desktop, DSL
and cable modems, businesses and home users now have the ability to tap
into a virtually unlimited supply of bandwidth.
Next, the adoption and implementation of the H.323 protocol for
transmitting video over TCP/IP has given the video conferencing industry a
boost. Previous video conferencing systems used H.320, which required
dedicated ISDN lines and would only allow you to conference from point to
point. This was not really even an option for home users because ISDN is
To create full-motion, synchronized audio and video communications over
the Internet, many pieces of hardware are utilized, from a VGA card, video
capture card, and a sound card to a scan converter and MPEG card. The next
wave of technology replaces all of these with a single PC or Internet
appliance powered by an Internet media processor, an evolution in
high-speed processors. This new Internet media processor is designed to
offload the processing of video and audio from Windows and the host CPU to
deliver full-motion (up to 30 frames per second) video communications.
Finally, video conferencing software, accessible by almost anyone, can
now be optimized to work with the Internet media processor to enable
full-motion video conferencing and video streaming. White Pine's CU-SeeMe
software and Microsoft Windows NetMeeting, combined with an Internet media
processor, enable individuals to keep up with the trends and needs in the
WELCOME TO 2015...
There is no question that businesses and households are connected to
the Internet. According to Strategis Group, approximately 90 million
households and 8.3 million businesses will have access by the year 2004,
up from 46.5 million and 6.3 million, respectively, today. The question
becomes: How quickly will they adopt true Internet video communications
and what is holding them back?
The same questions were asked about TVs, PCs, and cellular phones. The
only difference is that as new technologies are introduced today, they are
more quickly adopted into the mass market than they were decades ago.
Today, the initial price of technologies can be high, but as history
dictates, prices will come down as demand increases.
Video conferencing technology has been around for a few years, but
without the quality that businesses and consumers are looking for, the
technology remained a "gamble." But watch out, because with the
new technologies hitting the market, the next movie with real-time video
conferencing will probably be filmed in my house, not on some Hollywood
set with tricks and animation.
Thomas Fehr is the chief marketing officer for MAX Internet
Communications. MAX Internet Communications is revolutionizing video
communication technology via the Internet by developing products and
technology that enable desktop PCs and Internet information appliances to
become the total solution for high-quality video communications. For more
information, visit their Web site at www.maxic.com.