Video Conferencing, Telepresence Systems Dropping in Price, Size

Manufacturers are rolling out new video conferencing technology that is upending the industry, making systems smaller and less expensive while providing a more integrated video display that can operate over multiple high-tech platforms.

The newest “game changers” are programs and devices that make different video conferencing systems work together, said Mark Mayfield, an independent industry analyst/consultant.

The lack of interoperability “is one of the biggest obstacles in achieving wide-scale, mass adoption of videoconferencing,” Mayfield said. “Too many platforms have proprietary elements that only ‘play nice’ with systems of the same brand. So it makes it hard for a company equipped with LifeSize videoconference systems to talk with a client who is Skype-based,” he adds.

Most current systems are plug-and-play-ready and have overcome the scalability, reliability and quality issues that plagued desktop video conferencing years ago. Video conferencing (and telepresence) that is used in government is more than a corner office stuffed full of laptops running Skype. This new generation of equipment replicates the experience of a face-to-face meeting with high-definition, life-sized video and multiple users.

CISCO

 
Cisco Systems Inc.’s Videoscape Distribution Suite
Mayfield said industry giant Cisco Systems Inc. has made great strides in compatibility. Cisco recently rolled out the Cisco Videoscape Distribution Suite (VDS). It is an open platform that delivers video content across multiple screens, protocols, applications and networks.

The VDS is designed to bridge functionality, allowing video conferencing to be delivered across devices, including smartphones and tablets, said Edwin Paalvast, senior vice president, Cisco Service Provider Group.

FIBERPLEX TECHNOLOGIES

One significant trend is that traditional roombased systems are improving video quality with high-definition endpoints, which can overwhelm existing infrastructure.

 
Fiberplex Technologies’ WDM16
Fiberplex Technologies’ WDM16 (Wave Division Multiplexer) enables companies to use and expand on existing fiber optics that might be at or over capacity, and provides a 16-fold advantage on that single fiber, said Buddy Oliver, Fiberplex’s president and CEO. Using existing fiber optics is a much cheaper option than pulling and replacing miles of fiber, he said.

“What’s unique about ours is that it’s active, so users don’t have to have equipment and specific wave lengths,” Oliver said. “A user can use any off-the-shelf COTS equipment, single mode, multimode, any rate can plug into this wave division multiplexer.”

LIFESIZE

 
LifeSize’s Team 220
Austin-based LifeSize offers the LifeSize Team 220, a full highdefinition (HD) video conferencing system that has a dual display/camera support, digital input and output connections, an embedded four-way, HD multipoint control unit and dual microphones.

With the dual camera option, users can view different room angles with a simple switch and view data on one display while seeing up to four participants on the other display, the company said. The system delivers high-resolution 1080p30, along with full-motion video and 720p30 dual streaming at about a third of the cost of other systems, the company said.

LG ELECTRONICS

 
LG Electronics’ V5500
Sean Kim, LG Electronics’ manager of its video conferencing business team, said his company’s V5500 multipoint video compressed system is well suited for government users. The four-channel system seamlessly connects people from four locations and is suitable for large meeting rooms that accommodate 10 to 30 people. “A client who wants to engage in video conferencing with a branch office, this can be supplied to the headquarters and regional officers,” Kim said.

The low-bandwidth system enables users to save a camera position as a thumbnail image to identify which camera is assigned to a specific position easily. V5500’s camera provides clear images even under backlight conditions where the intensity of illumination is excessive, Kim said.

RADVISION

 
Radvision’s Scopia
As videoconferencing technology improves, users want to bring that application to their desktop and mobile devices, said Bob Romano, vice president of global marketing for Radvision/Avaya.

Users have smartphones and they want to use those devices to receive and send e-mail as well as use all the other applications for work, Romano said. “We have developed a platform of free apps and free downloads that allow you to join into a conference to get videoconferencing,” he said.

The Radvision Scopia platform is a combination of hardware and software that supports media processing for advanced room systems, desktops and mobile devices. The client-server architecture incorporates a video “multipoint control unit” (MCU) for real-time HD conferencing, Romano said. The heart of the system is the Scopia Elite 5000 Series MCU, an advanced media processing system that supports up to 1080p resolution, multiple SIP, H.323, and video/audio processing protocols including H.264 SVC, Romano said.

Romano expects the $3 billion videoconferencing industry to keep growing at about 15 percent a year. “It has gone from being a nascent industry to one of huge growth,” Romano said, “and the government sector is a significant segment. We will continue to see growth there.”

RICOH

 
Ricoh Company Ltd.’s P3000 System
Paul Foschino, Ricoh Company Ltd.’s senior manager for new business development, said the company’s P3000 system is designed as a mid-tier business tool combining high-end function and performance with portability. Unlike low-cost consumer conferencing systems, the P3000 enables secure encrypted communications (through Ricoh’s cloud), allows PC data sharing, is portable and supports up to 20 users, Foschino said.

“This product provides an affordable solution for small- to mid-size businesses that can’t afford a dedicated videoconference room system but require the flexibility and security of a true business tool,” Foschino said.

VADDIO

Vaddio’s Clearview HD-USB pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) camera seeks to replace USB cameras that are clipped to the top of a personal computer or laptop monitor and be used as low-cost form of video conferencing, said Mark Steen, the company’s chief operating officer. Using the Clearview HD USB camera, it is now possible to build a video conferencing, telepresence system using a standard PC and a good USB webcam, he said.

 
Vaddio’s Clearview HD-USB
The ClearView HD-USB is the first broadcastquality HD PTZ camera with USB and Ethernet streaming built into the camera, the company says. Users can now plug an HD PTZ camera directly into a PC without the need for a separate capture device, according to Steen. Because the ClearView HD-USB uses standard UVC drivers, no special USB drivers need to be installed. As a result they work with any software application running on any OS that supports USB 2.0 devices.

The ClearView HD-USB also supports H.264 video streaming. With a built-in Ethernet network interface you can now do both IP control and IP streaming directly from the camera. It supports either RTSP or HLS streaming protocols. The camera features a 19x optical zoom lens with a 58.1-degree wide angle of view — wide enough to view everyone at a standard conference table, as well as capture an individual from a long distance at 3.2 degrees in a larger room. The zoom range provides great flexibility for a variety of applications.

“It may premature to declare the death of the videoconferencing appliance, after all they continue to produce hundreds of millions in revenue, but the writing is certainly on the wall. The advantages of a softwarebased system (cost, easy upgrades, flexibility, scalability, etc.) are extremely compelling,” Steen said.

VIDEO GUIDANCE

 
Video Guidance’s VG Connect
Video Guidance’s VG Connect (VGC) integrates video conferencing tools, combining HD video, voice, multi-point bridging, streaming and gateway programs into one easy-to-use, cost-effective array, said Mike Werch, company president.

VGC bundles cloud-based conferencing options into one service and maintains it, taking the troubleshooting burden off the company’s clients, he said. Videoconferencing will someday become ubiquitous, he adds.

“I see that the (old-style) phone will die off,” Werch said. “Of course, I’m a video guy, but once people experience a video call from computer and have the (videoconferencing) experience, they will just totally stop using the phone,” he said.

AUDIO

 
Biamp System’s Tesira
Dramatic gains have also been made in the audio systems that support videoconferencing.

Biamp Systems’ Tesira is a digital audio networking system that uses Audio Video Bridging technology and an Acoustic Echo Cancellation algorithm that cleans up the sound and makes it easier to hear, said Michael Frank, Biamp Systems’ mid-Atlantic regional manager.

Phoenix Audio Technologies Quattro3 system uses four microphones and a uniquely designed speaker to give reliable sound to a videoconference room, said Jonathan Boaz, company vice president of sales and marketing.

 
Phoenix Audio Technologies’ Quattro 3
“We provide extra features such as daisy chaining and the capability to mount the unit on the ceiling,” Boaz said, “which is very important for videoconferencing and telepresence where the user wants the cleanest- looking esthetic in the room.”

MORE INFO

Biamp Systems:
www.biamp.com

Cisco Systems Inc.:
www.cisco.com

Fiberplex Technologies:
www.fiberplex.com

LifeSize:
www.lifesize.com

LG Electronics:
www.lg.com/us

Phoenix Audio Technologies:
www.phnxaudio.com

Radvision:
www.radvision.com

Ricoh:
www.ricoh.com

Vaddio:
www.vaddio.com

Video Guidance:
www.videoguidance.com

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