The Democratization of Video

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines  |  December 01, 2010

This article originally appeared in the December 2010 issue of Unified Communications Magazine

Videoconferencing, including telepresence, is expanding beyond the executive suite and conference rooms to desktops, assembly lines and hospital rooms.

Jim Cantalini, president of High Speed Video, calls it the “democratization of videoconferencing.”

For High Speed Video, which offers the ClearVision standards-based videoconferencing service, that means delivering videoconferencing services that are flexible, accessible to a broader set of users, and don’t require organizations to make an up-front capital investment. Because it works via the public Internet using 300- to 400kbps connections, the service is available to a lot of people, he says, adding the service is available for $100 per user per month, or less in volume.

“What we’re doing is bringing this to a cost point where it’s within reach to a lot more people,” he says.

Indeed, videoconferencing has become more accessible via desk phones introduced by a variety of organizations; the availability of mobile videoconferencing applications from some of those same companies as well as Apple, which delivered the FaceTime video application with the introduction of the iPhone (News - Alert) 4 this year; video calling services from such companies as High Speed Video and Skype; and new telepresence appliances from companies like XVD Corp.

Joe Lam, co-founder and COO of XVD, says that while telepresence today typically is used exclusively by well-heeled workers sitting in special conference rooms outfitted to facilitate these high-quality remote interactions, there are plenty of applications for the technology beyond the board room. Enabling an engineer to see with great clarity a problem on an assembly line is an example , Lam explains, or a health care organization to wheel a battery-powered portable telepresence solution into a patient’s room, are two good examples of such applications.

To enable these kinds of things, XVD has introduced the EspressoHD solution. It’s an appliance, list priced at $5,000, that is low power (25 watts vs. the 150 to 200 watts used by most systems) and offers 1080 resolution over a 1.5mbps connection.

“Due to our technological breakthroughs that require less bandwidth, reduce power consumption and increase interoperability, EspressoHD will broaden how telepresence can be used in verticals including telemedicine, industrial, education and small business,” he says.Each EspressoHD appliance easily connects to a display monitor and T1 network, and turns on within seconds, Lam adds. One unit can connect up to five locations locally or globally, and without an expensive and complicated multipoint control unit, he says.

EspressoHD launched earlier this year in other global markets where it has seen rapid growth and is use with such customers as Mitsubishi (News - Alert), Telemarketing Japan and the Zambian government. TMJ uses EspressoHD technology to connect its headquarters with three branch offices and seven call centers throughout Japan. The Zambian government, meanwhile, has installed EspressoHD at various universities in an effort to expand classrooms across distances.

This fall XVD brought the appliance to the U.S., and it plans to launch a cloud-based telepresence service based on the technology by the end of the year.

With its most recent release of Adobe Connect, Adobe also forwarded the democratization of videoconferencing movement.

Peter Ryce, Adobe Connect evangelist, says one major enhancement with the new release is that it allows customers to use it to interface with meeting rooms from a variety of vendors, including those from Polycom, for example. Meanwhile, Adobe Connect Mobile enables participants to view meetings on mobile devices. It works on Apple (News - Alert) iPhone and iPad, as well as Google Android and other mobile devices that support Adobe Flash technology.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi