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November 2001

No Matter Where IP Goes, There You Are

Go Right To: 
Eye On Tomorrow: Video Instant Messaging Is Born
>>Case Study: VBrick Sets Up Military Training Using Video Over IP At Ft. Benning

Buckaroo Banzai's old adage, "Wherever you go...there you are," has been turned new again by the onslaught of video conferencing solutions available on today's market. What was once the plaything of independent sci-fi filmmakers is now not only a reality in the business world, but a feasible solution to cutting costs and increasing productivity in the workplace.

Reducing travel expenses is the mantra for the day. Companies must implement alternate solutions, such as e-conferencing, Web-casts, teleconferences, e-sharing, etc., instead of trucking the team to meetings in Tokyo and Geneva, and drying up the company coffers. Video conferencing solutions are the benchmark of rational business -- while they still lack a sense of physical "personality," the ability to interact human to human has never been closer to "the real thing." And isn't that the role of communications?

Our systems of communications have steadily been evolving towards one end: Instant, anywhere presence. Video conferencing gets us closer to that goal. Does your enterprise or small business need this technology? Yes, it most certainly does. There is no longer any question about it. The availability and the various pricing schemes available make video and Web conferencing reachable by even teenage cliques, so there is no reason for you not to explore the myriad solutions available.

Think of the cost savings in remote training, interoffice communications, business meetings, press briefings, etc. Think of the time savings for in-office communications in large enterprises. Think of the expanded touch a face on a screen offers -- personality no longer has only voice, but a face as well.

As with the implementation of any new communications device, it is important you know your system and know your needs -- where you are and where you want to be. Then use the video conferencing solutions outlined here, and the emerging technologies entering the marketplace, to arrive where you should be: pervasively and visually present.

-Mike von Wahlde


VBrick Model 4300
VBrick Systems
12 Beaumont Rd.
Wallingford, CT 06492

The VBrick 4300 is a low cost dual MPEG-2 video encoder with an Ethernet (IP-10/100) network interface. It accepts up to two video/audio sources (NTSC/PAL) and can stream DVD quality MPEG-2 video in real-time to any network attached PC or TV. The VBrick 4300 contains an integral Web server for management and Web browser for data collaboration.

IP VideoPhone
InnoMedia Inc.
90 Rio Robles, Ste. 100
San Jose, CA 95134

InnoMedia's IP VideoPhone is a compact, all-in-one desktop phone taking the complexity out of video conferencing. This plug-and-play system delivers high-quality video, and is convenient and cost-effective. Ideal for corporate deployment, users can place no-cost face-to-face video calls to anywhere in the world over a broadband connection. The IP VideoPhone is interoperable with other H.323-based compliant video communications systems. Simply plug it into a quality-of-service-enabled broadband IP network, configure and dial.

Wire One Technologies
225 Long Ave.
Hillside, NJ 07205

Wire One's Glowpoint network service is the first subscription-based service offering video calls over a dedicated IP backbone. The Glowpoint network reduces transmission costs of video communications by up to 50 percent, as compared to traditional ISDN-based video conferencing, and dramatically improves the quality and reliability of video communications. Glowpoint also offers IP and ISDN multipoint bridging and gateway services to connect customers with sites that are not on the Glowpoint network or are ISDN-based.

MeetNow Web
Connex International
40 Old Ridgebury Rd., Ste. 317
Danbury, CT 06801

Connex International announces the addition of MeetNow Web to its existing line of reservationless services, offering the ability to Web conference and archive the event. The new service gives users a range of options that will let them produce effective and exceptional meetings over the Web. MeetNow Web is designed for any meeting where users need to communicate ideas, product information, training review sessions, weekly sales results, corporate financials, and communicate the information to participants quickly across the country and the world.

LiveWave, Inc.
359 Thames St., Suite AB
Newport, RI 02840

LiveWave's ConvergenceCams and RemoteStudio kiosks feature broadcast-quality video with fluid pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities for all your video conferencing neeeds. In addition, administrators have complete professional camera functionality, such as white balance, iris, pedestal, and gain. When streamed over a network or the Internet, viewers can control the cameras and direct their own programming or participate in a real-time chat session.

575 Corporate Dr., Ste. 420
Mahwah, NJ 07430

RADVISION's viaIP multi-service platform is a chassis-based solution for deploying IP-centric voice, video, and data conferencing services. The viaIP product family addresses the IP communication requirements of service providers and large enterprises and government agencies. This all-in-one solution integrates V2oIP gateway, multipoint conferencing, data collaboration, and gatekeeper intelligence into a single platform. RADVISION's first-to-market OnLAN family of networking products may be used to build a total enterprise IP-based PBX that supports both voice and video over IP. The OnLAN product family includes individual stackable V2oIP gateways and conferencing bridges along with embedded and standalone gatekeeper applications.

ACT Teleconferencing

ACT's ActionView is a standards-based video conferencing service that includes reservations and scheduling management along with 24-hour-a-day operator-controlled conferences. It offers clients the standards of technical excellence and superlative service, which are the hallmarks of ACT's internationally renowned audio conferencing service. ACT provides services for a whole range of new clients in industries as diverse as banking, manufacturing, hi-tech, and the media. ACT's multipoint video conferencing offers the added benefit of visual graphics to business applications such as management meetings, medical information transfer, training, distance learning, and media presentations.

PictureTel 900 Series
PictureTel Corporation
100 Minuteman Rd.
Andover, MA 01810

The top-of-the-line iPower offering, the PictureTel 900 Series is optimized for the most demanding conference room environments. The solution boasts a Pentium III Processor that enables conference participants to harness even the most memory-intensive applications, delivering the highest level of data-sharing for mission-critical applications. The PictureTel 900 Series also offers the flexibility of working with multiple networks, including v.35, ISDN, and IP, enabling the end user to achieve high quality with a variety of network bandwidths and network interfaces. An on-board floppy and CD-ROM drive and the ability to connect to any standard meeting peripheral enable meeting participants to easily re-create the in-person experience.

Access NGI
First Virtual Communications
3393 Octavius Dr.
Santa Clara, CA 95054

First Virtual Communications, formerly CUseeMe Networks, provides several products that create the network infrastructure necessary to support rich media solutions. The Access NGI provides a true rich media switch capability for a wide variety of applications and network types. Whether it is voice, video, or data, the Access NGI provides a cost effective solution to meet the needs of edge switch situations. First Virtual Communications also provides a flexible, expandable gateway product that can integrate ATM, IP, and ISDN network resources into one comprehensive platform.

4100 East 3rd Ave.
Foster City, CA 94404

Inktomi's intelligent network infrastructure software extends the viability and flexibility of existing networks. They also provide a software-based solution where IP multicast is not in place. Inktomi recognizes content at the content level therefore they are able to offer: Realtime management and control of the media rich content, realtime audience measurement and tracking of who's looking at what stream, self-healing capabilities (re-routing of content streams in realtime), scalability (as more and more offices in remote locations log on to watch), and a reliable multicast (knowing when the file has been received and that it's being watched). Inktomi also offers an intuitive publishing solution via the Inktomi Media Publisher product which allows line of business managers to easily capture media and publish it so that it can be accessed on the network.

1565 Barber Ln.
Milpitas, CA 95305

ViaVideo brings business-quality video communications into the office -- in a package only three inches wide and designed specifically for personal use. The sophisticated integrated multimedia processor and high-quality camera deliver full-screen, full-motion, up to 30 frames per second, business-quality video without sapping processing power from your PC. Plus it provides the conference room-quality audio you expect, with no add-in boards to install or bulky hardware to place on your desk. Just plug this appliance into the USB port on your PC, load the software, and start communicating ViaVideo in minutes.

Five Questions

1.What is your primary use for video communications? Will you be using it to train, to communicate, to share telecasts, to conference?

2. Will you be enabling only certain users or certain terminals? Will it primarily be a tool for collaborative work?

3. Do you have multiple locations to enable? Is cutting down on interoffice travel a priority?

4. What is the quality you require? Will any of the communications be shown over traditional television outlets, or is high resolution a priority?

5. What type of communications infrastructure is already in place? Will video require you to rethink/rework your legacy system?

Mobile Video Expertise
ImageCom Ltd.
Cedars Park
Cedars Rd.
Berkshire, ENG SL6 1RZ
01628 688700

ImageCom's Mobile Video Expertise provides excellent moving and still images that will operate across standard mobile networks, including GSM, GPRS and HSCSD environments. The benefit of using MVE is its excellent surveillance qualities whereby the user can operate the equipment either at very short notice or where you do not have access to traditional wired phone networks. In real terms, this means one can use this almost anywhere, provided you are within reach of a mobile network MVE has a number of mission-critical applications, ranging from rapid-response surveillance, security, emergency services, TV broadcasting, remote diagnostics, and tele-medicine, to name but a few.

Avistar VOS
555 Twin Dolphin Dr., 3rd Fl.
Redwood Shores, CA 94065

Avistar is a leading provider of desktop video communication solutions for the financial services industry. Their technology, with its unique integrated suite of video applications, really outclasses standard video- and web-conferencing. The standards-based Avistar VOS software platform lets users place video calls from their desktops through a simple GUI, so they can: Easily make two-way or multi-party collaborative video calls from their desktops; record themselves or their calls/videoconferences for later playback; instantly create video presentations and distribute via live, streaming video broadcasts; and seamlessly bring in desktop applications (Excel, PowerPoint) or video from outside sources (CNN, CNBC) to discuss with the call participants/recipients.

Ridgeway VX Communication System
Ridgeway Systems
10535 Boyer Blvd., Ste. 101
Austin, TX 78758

The Ridgeway VX Communication System gives service providers the ability to quickly and easily supply IP voice and video services, even to H.323 end-points with private IP addresses. The Ridgeway VX Communication System is comprised of hardware and software solutions available for service providers and enterprises to deploy. The hardware family, including the VX Application Server and the VX Media Server, enables cost effective scalability and reliability. The software solutions, including the VX Media Manager and VX Media Client, enable secure delivery of media over existing network infrastructure and into private IP environments.

Eyeball Video Comunications Systems
Eyeball Networks
500-100 Park Royal West
Vancouver, BC V7T 1A2

Eyeball Video Communications Systems provide highly reliable and scalable video communciations over corporate Intranets and the Internet. Based on the Any-Bandwith technology, it delivers the best possible video quality for each user based on their network bandwidth and CPU capacity. End users are given easy single-click access to other online users while administrators can easily maintain the system and user accounts through a Web-based server.

[ Return To The November 2001 Table Of Contents ]

EYE ON TOMORROW: Video Instant Messaging is Born


A new type of application that combines the best of desktop video conferencing and instant messaging is being born -- let's call it "video instant messaging." With the transition of video delivery from ISDN to IP networks, and the usability of instant messaging, it only seems natural to unify these two applications to make real-time, rich media communications accessible to more people at their desks.

Presence Detection
One of the fundamental functions of instant messaging is its presence detection feature that lets users see when contacts are online and available. With software-based systems, presence detection is managed at the server level where the status of any one user is maintained, and their information is shared amongst other servers and clients in real-time. With video instant messaging, users can see when their contacts are open to communications, not just in text, but with voice and video as well. Further, they can send messages to contacts that are offline or unavailable. This makes real-time communications easier and more available than complex hardware-based systems and much more effective than text-based instant messaging alone.

Many large businesses that invested in room-based systems have trouble getting buy-in from their employees due to lack of training and the perceived level of operational complexity. However, video instant messaging, as it extends on the functions of familiar text-based messaging programs, will enable companies to see an immediate increase in ROI. Administrators will find software and IP-based video instant messaging systems much easier to manage through integration with existing hardware and network infrastructure, and remote management capabilities. Workers will have an intuitive interface to work from, and are much more likely to use it for day-to-day business operations with teammates, clients, and partners.

Recent trends in the decline of corporate travel have made video communications a critical part of inter-office meetings, where the level of participation requires more than simple phone conversations or email messages. Video instant messaging enables more people to take part in face-to-face in meetings without leaving their desk -- or even their home for that matter. Further, outside participants -- clients, partners, suppliers -- can more easily participate due to the ubiquity and interoperability of IP-based systems. There is no doubt that increased usability and accessibility will attract more businesses to video instant messaging, as there is tremendous value in being able to see and immediately engage online contacts in a real-time voice and video conversation through one unified interface.

Angie Hirata is marketing manager at Eyeball Networks.

[ Return To The November 2001 Table Of Contents ]

CASE STUDY: VBrick Sets Up Military Training Using Video Over IP At Ft. Benning


Ft. Benning has a tactical training center to test out new technologies and train personnel. A village containing various types of buildings has 128 cameras for viewing and recording training exercises. As soldiers go through the exercises, cameras and other instruments monitor the activity. Ft. Benning needed an affordable method to transport the video and audio to monitoring locations on and off the base.

The personnel monitoring the activity had to be able to view it full-motion/full screen on their PC. The number of simultaneous viewers could range from one to many. Ft. Benning wanted to use its existing Ethernet network to transport the video and audio from the training area to the monitoring locations and use minimal bandwidth.

VBrick Solution:
The VBrick Model 3200 encoder accepts NTSC video and audio from a camera, digitizes and compresses it in real-time, and then sends it over the Ethernet network to PCs. The main Ethernet network is composed of Cabletron 100M and Gig Ethernet switches. Since the network is IP multicast enabled, only one video stream is required from the VBrick. When more than one user requests the stream, the Ethernet switch duplicates it to that user. Network bandwidth is conserved since each user does not need their separate unicast connection to the VBrick.

At any PC running the VBrick StreamPlayerII software personnel can monitor cameras connected to a VBrick. If multiple streams are present, the StreamPlayerII software provides a program guide listing each source. Military exercises are viewed real-time, as television quality full-motion/full-screen video. At any time, the exercise can be recorded to hard disk for later analysis.

The VBricks at Ft. Benning are also used to provide real-time multimedia information to the foot soldiers in the exercise. Some of the soldiers carry portable computers (man-worn) equipped with wireless receivers. As they go through the exercises they can receive the same high quality video and audio directly on their PC.

Customer Benefits:
The VBricks have made the training exercises more productive by providing real-time multimedia information to key observation stations on and off the base. In the past, the training exercises were recorded on to tapes and distributed to pertinent personnel, creating a time lag between when the exercise took place and the review. Now, the participants can get instant feedback.

Mike Savic is director of Marketing at VBrick.

[ Return To The November 2001 Table Of Contents ]

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