Why are Desktop Video Conferences getting more and more popular?
The latest Forrester Report proofs again the importance of video conferencing and the continuous increase of desktop video conference solutions, integrated video conferencing rooms and immersive telepresence installations in organisations. The majority of the 1,000 participating companies stated that they are looking to implement desktop video conferencing solutions very soon. More than 40% of these organisations said also they are planning to introduce HD video conferencing and 25% are going to install immersive telepresence rooms solutions.
There is an especially strong trend towards software video conferencing solutions, that can be used with already existing hardware such as PCs, Notebooks, Tablets and Smartphones. This is an important reason for the spreading of this kind of video communication technology in organisations but the main arguments for this are the reduced costs for installation and maintenance in comparison with HD video conferencing systems or immersive telepresence rooms.
Who’s new in the game?
The report provides a good overview around the current situation of the communication market and the manufacturing companies. The result is that next to big players such as for instance Cisco, Polycom and LifeSize, who are providing a wide range of video conferencing and unified communications solutions, several new companies are emerging, who provide software solutions. Two of the most important features of these new companies are a strong product focus and tailoring the technology to suit the clients. The report names some of the new actors in the game to be Vidyo, Huawei and Teliris.
Forrester shows clearly that many organisations are considering video conferencing as a strategic advantage and that the technology is placed in their long term planning for corporate communication.
Have you been wondering what all this is about?
There has been a lot of change in terminology in the video conferencing / telepresence business. New technologies were introduced and legacy technology was still kept and is still being developed. In this article I would like to explain my point of view even though usually every organisation uses different terms.
Video Conference (or sometimes written videoconference) is the most common term for video communication. It replaced the term “videotelephony” which was somewhat redundant, even though we will meet the “tele” segment again. A video conference is the form of any communication using image and audio of two or more locations, exchanging data in real-time and in all directions at the same time. Private video conferencing solutions such as Skype also find their home in this category but are not industry standard.
Telepresence is the “new term” for video conferencing. However most people would agree that the term telepresence includes only high-end codecs that support high bandwidth and provide HD resolutions. To be exact even we can break down the term into the two segments “tele” and “presence” so we are talking about being present in a remote location. And even though it is not really related to video conferencing entirely this also include the robotic telepresence or telerobotics.
If telepresence systems are set up in a concept to provide a high degree of immersion those solutions are called immersive telepresence. The degree of immersion defines how much the users feel like the remote site is actually sitting at the other end of the table in their room even though they might be continents apart. In order to provide this a very complex rule set has to be followed on the design of all participating rooms. If only one of the “illusions” are broken it will not be immersive any longer.
Opinion of the People
In reaction to this article becoming very popular with people looking for a comparison of telepresence terms we have started a poll to find out what the most preferred term is. Vote and check the results here.
Introduction Video of the Cisco TX9000 Immersive Telepresence Solution
How does H.265 work? When will H.265 come?
The news of a new codec coming has been going around for the last weeks now. But what does it really mean and how will it change the business? Well let’s start at where this is coming from and how the history of H.265 actually looks like at the table below.
|| MPEG-1 Video
|| MPEG-2 Video
|| MPEG-4 Part 2 ASP
|| MPEG-4 Part 10 AVC
Throughout the development of these codecs it was always the target to keep the quality of a video signal and to reduce their data size by applying intelligent algorithms. The complexity of these algorithms has increased and H.265 will have the most complex rules of codecs developed so far.
What is the main benefit of H.265?
H.265 will provide equal H.264 video quality but will reduce the required bandwidth for video conferencing or immersive telepresence by around 50% (more or less – depending on content in the video signal). This means that there could be twice as much video conferences going on simultaneously in a corporate network at the same quality. For all those who have been limited to a low bandwidth for video conferencing so far it can also mean that you can finally migrate to use HD video resolution and audio as clear as it has been never before.
When is H.265 coming?
There are no clear dates written in stone but so far H.265 is expected to be build into devices in 2013 and is expected to be a new standard in 2014.
What needs to be done to be ready for H.265?
More complex codecs usually require more computing power than the ones that were used previously. So in order to deliver the same quality at less data bandwidth it is very likely that also new hardware will be needed to use H.265. As for now the major video conferencing system producers have not announced a new series of H.265 endpoints but we will keep you posted.
Snorre Kjesbu and Thomas Wyatt of Cisco demonstrate H.265 at the Cisco Collaboration Summit
Joining a video conference for the first time?
We all love our quick 1-on-1 video conference calls from the desk with information provided just in time, but if you are participating in a scheduled meeting with the goals to exchange information quickly and progress to a common goal in an effective and mature manner you should consider some of the following guidelines.
Better not eat nor drink during a video conference
Everyone is busy nowadays and wants to invest time as efficient as possible, however consuming your lunch during a video conference might not be the best idea due to low aesthetics as well as the fact that the microphone will most likely amplify all the sounds that you would rather not want others to hear. This is especially the case for participants joining with a headset. Telepresence restaurants such as Fleming’s the Steakhouse in the United States or Haidilao the Hotpot restaurant chain in China are of course an exception but to avoid drooling, all sites should be in such a venue.
After all participants have joined the host should introduce any individuals that might be not acquainted with everyone yet. This prevents participants from being confused about people they might have exchanged emails with but have never seen face-to-face.
Remain within camera view
Before you are joining your video conference you should check if the camera is set up properly and if not adjust it to fit. You should not see feet under a table nor should you have too much headroom above the individuals. If others are joining your room as well you should zoom out and re-adjust to make sure everyone is seen clearly – after all this is the purpose of having a video conference.
Mute yourself if you are not speaking for long periods
If your meeting is set up in a structured way and follows an agenda you don’t need to have your microphone active all the time. If you mute it while nobody in your room is talking you are reducing unwanted noise such as the air-con, someone sorting their documents and similar sources of disturbance. You can keep your remote control near in case you want to quickly say something but in general you will notice a more clear communication experience if everyone who is not talking, has their microphone muted. Even though your room is on mute, you should not talk with other participants within your room even if it is just a quick comment. This will most likely distract the speaker and add confusion to the communication flow.
Talk slowly and anticipatory
Video conference and immersive Telepresence technology is at a very mature state, however it can still happen that someone finishes his sentence but have not yet finished his speech. So talk calm and wait for the speaker to finish and don’t talk over each other. If you happen to have talked someone over, quickly apologise and ask the speaker to carry on in order to continue the conversation in a structured way.
<Your advice here>
If you have a great advice for participating in or hosting a video conference, let us know in the comment box below. We are looking forward to hear your great ideas!
Video: Top 10 Video Conference Bloopers by Karen Boosalis