VidyoWay – The Way for B2B communication

In case you haven’t seen this morning’s headlines, Vidyo is continuing to disrupt the video conferencing market and just announced a new free cloud-based service:  VidyoWay. Now anyone using Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize, other H.323 and SIP-based room systems, Microsoft Lync clients, mobile devices and telephones can easily connect with each other and/or with Vidyo endpoints.

Interoperability doesn’t mean interconnectivity:

At the risk of sounding old, I’ll admit I was part of the H.323 standardization effort in the previous century. Interoperability did exist in 1997, but widespread adoption of video conferencing has long been inhibited by low quality, high cost and complexity associated with attempting to provide B2B collaboration within multi-vendor environments. Businesses came to expect the ease of use provided by legacy phone service, yet we never think of that as a missing piece of the puzzle in business video communications today.  Everybody knows that when you dial +1 201 you will get to New Jersey and if you continue to dial seven additional digits you reach your intended target. The global agreement that is needed to make this happen is simply not in place for video conferencing. These problems, alongside inhibiting costs and quality issues have slowed down the legacy video conferencing market.

Vidyo’s architecture solves a large part of the structural challenges seen in the market today by offering very high-quality meet-me solutions that bring price and performance in line with user expectation. Vidyo delivers a business video conferencing solution that promises natural quality, reaching a wide set of devices, on best effort networks, at price points that deliver significant savings and works for B2B and B2C solutions and even high scale C2C applications.  The compelling advantage of this architecture fuels Vidyo’s fast growth (four times faster than the rest of the industry)

Recently we have seen a number of players aiming to address the space between new high-quality solutions, and the legacy connectivity issues by offering a ‘transcoding room in the cloud’ that allow different technologies to interconnect in a much simpler way than was previously  available to users. People who use legacy systems spend a lot of money on their equipment and find that it is not easily usable for communication outside of their company. These “cloud based” services, although not cheap, are welcomed by such people that want to improve the return on investment of their equipment.

That’s where VidyoWay comes in. VidyoWay addresses ALL three factors of cost, complexity, and limited connectivity for legacy devices to remove the barriers to enterprise visual collaboration more effectively than any other solution in the market. Being completely free and super easy to use we hope that it will become the standard way for people to connect their legacy devices. VidyoWay will eliminate the need for IT assistance and the age-old question: “I am using one interconnectivity service and you are using another, now what?”

So what’s in it for Vidyo?

VidyoWay gives video conferencing users something that they have wanted for a long time. With this service, they only need to configure their legacy architecture room system ONCE to connect with VidyoWay. The same way several callers may dial a single 800 number to join an audio conference bridge, video conferencing participants can now use a single dialing scheme to leverage video communications with other business users regardless of their device. The extra bonus – everyone is already ‘VidyoReady’ because VidyoWay federates for free to any hosted or on-prem videoconferencing system. This allows Vidyo to have a dialog with all the end users that are not ready to switch to a new architecture yet and help them to do so in a gradual way. Think about it, we are closing the gap with free interconnectivity.

 

Some of you may be wondering whether this will decrease Vidyo sales because it is available for free. To the contrary: it will increase sales as it connects the Vidyo user-base to all organizations that use legacy systems. As these organizations switch to us, mobile devices, desktop conferencing and telepresence rooms will already be ready for Vidyo’s product line.  The legacy world is measured in about a million endpoints and is still a very small fraction of the potential market of hundreds of millions of personal endpoints and affordable telepresence users that our paid products are addressing. VidyoWay’s fair use policy requires the use of the service for the purpose of legacy device interconnectivity and conferencing. Consequently the use of VidyoWay for legacy endpoints doesn’t even put a dent in our target market for our full product portfolio. Moreover, native use of Vidyo (not via transcoded legacy endpoint) provides tremendous quality and cost benefit which drove our business to grow four times faster than the industry average.

So far, the reaction to this news has been overwhelmingly positive. Here is what some of the industry’s key analysts and media have said about VidyoWay:

“Vidyo’s new VidyoWay offering was very impressive. This compelling new service solves the ease-of-use problem that has plagued the industry for years. The VidyoWay demo was very comprehensive – it’s easy to use, borderless and most importantly free! We believe the VidyoWay offering will be a hit with channels and customers.” - Troy Jenson – Managing Director and Senior Research Analyst, Piper Jaffray

“Vidyo continues to prove themselves as a leader in market innovation, technical excellence, scalability and adaptability to varied video conferencing environments. The new, free VidyoWay service is sure to positively disrupt the market as Vidyo has been able to do in recent years. VideoWay has the true potential to expand the video conferencing and collaboration market to mass deployment levels.” – Roopam Jain, Industry Director, Unified Communications and Collaboration, Frost & Sullivan


“Multivendor interoperability is a real pain point in the video conferencing industry. Interconnecting video conferencing systems that businesses have deployed is certainly possible, but is often both complicated and expensive,” said Brian Riggs, research director at Current Analysis. “A service like VidyoWay should have considerable appeal among companies seeking a straightforward way to make video communication as commonplace as telephone calls, at no cost to the end user. Vidyo continues to dramatically change the economics of B2B video conferencing.” - Brian Riggs, Research Director, Current Analysis

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Ofer Shapiro co-founded Vidyo in 2005 and pioneered Personal Telepresence, enabling a new generation of software-based natural, multi-point HD video conferences on desktop computers, room systems, and mobile devices. Prior to Vidyo, Ofer spent eight years at RADVISION where he was responsible for the development of the first IP video conferencing bridge and gatekeeper technology and the first commercially successful video conferencing architecture. He also served as senior vice president of business development responsible for strategic sales and relationships. Ofer was a contributor and one of the editors of the H.323 standard. Ofer has over fifteen years of experience in bringing disruptive technologies to market. He holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Physics.

Sify and Vidyo Partner: “Sify videomeet” Brings New-Generation Video Conferencing to Indian Enterprises

Sify Technologies Limited announced today the launch of Sify videomeet: This new service is powered by Vidyo and thus benefits from its unique architecture, enabling ubiquitous HD video conferencing from anywhere, any time, on any device and any network.

“We are proud to partner with Sify in India,” added Vidyo CMO & SVP of Corporate Development Ashish Gupta. “With the growing penetration of smartphones, laptops and tablets in the region, Vidyo’s software-based approach to videoconferencing on multiple devices over non-dedicated networks is the ideal solution for the market in India. Vidyo’s Adaptive Video Layering collaboration platform is perfectly suited for emerging markets like India, offering low latency, natural, affordable, high-quality video that works over an Internet connection, whether wired or wireless including WiFi and 4G. We look forward to empowering Sify with the technology backbone required to extend this service to other customer segments.”

 

Sify videomeet will enable emerging businesses & enterprises to have video conferencing at less than Rs. 3 per minute. Customers could pay a fixed rental for getting unlimited video conferencing access or avail the ‘pay-per-use’ option. This service also eliminates the need for a Multipoint Control Unit (MCU) or any other video conferencing device at the premises of the customer, thereby reducing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

 

“Sify videomeet, the Video Conferencing-as-a-service is a rich addition to our converged ICT services portfolio bringing competitive advantage to our customer’s business,” said Daniel Alex senior VP network services of Sify technologies. Built on the strength of our industry-leading Network Services, with Vidyo’s innovative technology, this new-generation service will empower enterprises of all sizes to collaborate cost-effectively and in a secure manner. Our strategic partnership with Vidyo will help us innovate for our customers to keep them ahead in their businesses.”

For more on the Sify-Vidyo partnership: Read the full press release, or this Hindu Business Line article.

Philips and Vidyo Join Forces to Deliver Amazing HD Telehealth Platform

Today Vidyo announced our collaboration with Philips  - one that we believe has huge potential to uniquely satisfy a variety of needs in within Healthcare in general and telehealth in particular.

Philips is integrating Vidyo’s market-shifting video conferencing solution into its telehealth solutions for hospitals by using Vidyo’s Application Programming Interface (APIs) to embed video communication into its healthcare platform.  The resulting solution is designed to improve quality of patient care while optimizing clinician workflows and reducing costs.

By adding Vidyo to its clinical IT framework, Philips will augment a variety of processes and services with natural visual communication capabilities, to facilitate hospitals initiatives focused on improving outcomes and achieving meaningful use. The collaboration leverages the many advantages of the Vidyo solution – natural and low latency video interaction, reliable,secure, private and consistent operation over public networks, an intuitive user interface, scalability and accessibility from any device that is connected to the Internet.

What impact can these Vidyo advantages have for healthcare providers?

  1. Reduce re-admissions via frequent and cost-effective follow-up virtual visits
  2. Improved efficiency and accuracy of clinical workflows and related processes.
  3. Improved productivity with existing staff and reduced number of mistakes
  4. Ability to use a single unified platform for all processes, from remote consults, patient monitoring and follow up, to peer consultation and training.
  5. Reducing the cost of point of care, both in terms of equipment and network as well as in terms of IT support.

Initial plans are to integrate the Vidyo platform  with the Philips eICU Program . This Program enables health systems to transform critical care with an integrated, system-wide approach that leverages scarce critical care resources, integrates clinical decision support, and standardizes evidence-based care across the enterprise. The Philips eICU Program drives clinical transformation that is proven, predictable, and sustainable.

Considering Philips’ comprehensive portfolio of healthcare products – from home patient monitoring, to remote consultation – we look forward to the potential opportunity to  integrate with other Philips products.

This is a major step for both Vidyo and Philips – merging telepresence and medicine into one discipline that seamlessly combines both remote and face-to-face interaction between healthcare professionals, caregivers and patients.

 

Vidyo’s Virtual Field Trip Connects California Middle Schoolers With Arizona State University Scientist and Researcher

Last November, we shared with you the story of the San Carlos Charter Learning Center (SCCLC) and showed how Vidyo’s platform for education provided 22 California middle schoolers the opportunity to participate in a virtual field trip and spend an afternoon at a museum in Denver, 1,289 miles from their Bay Area classroom.

Monday, the San Carlos Charter Learning Center held another Vidyo-powered virtual field trip! This time the school took them to a laboratory at Arizona State University’s School of Life and Sciences (ASU-SOLS).

As some of you may recall, ASU has been using Vidyo’s technology to connect biology students to experts and leading research scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s facilities on Barro Colorado Island, in the middle of the Panama Canal. This program allows students to explore the jungles of Panama from their classrooms miles away in Tempe, Arizona. (If you’ve missed the video, you can always check it out here.)

The ASU-SOLS-Smithsonian virtual classroom project was so successful that the faculty at ASU decided to participate in a new Vidyo-powered field trip. Professor Quentin D. Wheeler, Director of the International Institute for Species Exploration and Senior Sustainability Scientist at ASU and Chuck Kazilek, Assistant Dean of Technology, Media and Communications, worked closely with Ben Sibrack, science and language teacher at SCCLC, to develop a suitable and pertinent class lesson which coincided with content closely aligned to material being studied in the fifth and sixth grade class and ASU’s “Ask a Biologist” program.

The lesson connected many fields of study including Biology, Entomology and Taxonomy. Leveraging Vidyo’s technology, the students could naturally interact and ask questions to Quentin and Chuck over the course of the class. They were also able to take a peek into ASU’s  laboratory, and witness for themselves some of the hundreds of species of bugs being studied. Using a MacBook and a simple, off-the-shelf, USB camera, the ASU team was able to show the San Carlos students some of the lab’s most interesting insect specimens, both dead and alive!

Courtesy The San Mateo Daily Journal

The classroom at the San Carlos Charter Learning Center was simply equipped with a regular MacBook plugged into an HD monitor and an off-the-shelf webcam. An iPad 2 was also connected to the videoconference so that the students could pass it around and personally see content shared from ASU. The students were even able to use the iPad 2’s back camera as a means to show Quentin and Chuck their own collection of insects, including a live Madagascar hissing cockroach. Both endpoints were connected over a standard Internet Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections.

 

The SCCLC staff and students weren’t the only ones impressed by this Vidyo-powered virtual field trip! US Congresswoman Jackie Speier also stopped by and was able to witness for herself the benefits of virtual learning.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA., visits Vidyo-powered Virtual Field trip with SCCLC Director, Chris Mahoney and Vidyo CMO & SVP of Corporate Development, Ashish Gupta.

In a conversation with Vidyo, Professor Wheeler explained that he has been working on developing tools designed to manipulate and examine insect specimens remotely: Anyone from anywhere in the world, will soon be able to control the tools and cameras at the lab in Arizona. Chuck was thrilled by the potential of combining these remote controlled tools with Vidyo’s platform. “This is the closest thing to teleportation!”, he said with a smile.

ASU Emeritus Professor Shapard Wolf, also involved in the virtual field trip planning, explained how the Vidyo/ASU collaboration was born, “We first used Vidyo…to bring the research being done in the Panamanian rain forest into the classrooms in the ASU campus in the Tempe desert, allowing the students here to interact with the researchers on site. Since then, I’ve seen Vidyo used in many situations, from researchers collaborating across three continents, to second graders in a Texas classroom talking with one of our expert entomologists and wondering at his specimens of beetles as held them to the camera.”

Seeing the excited expressions on the school children’s faces and knowing that they’ve seen something that previously would have required an enormous amount of logistical effort was a very rewarding experience for us at Vidyo!

Vidyo’s education products are eligible for discounts through E-Rate, a federally funded program that provides assistance for schools and libraries to purchase telecommunications and Internet access. To learn more about how to equip your school with Vidyo’s technology, stop by our site.

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Related Links:

- Article about the San Carlos Charter Learning Center’s last Vidyo Virtual Field Trip: “Federal E-Rate Program Helping K-12 Classrooms Travel the Globe
- Aricle about the ASU-SOLS-Smithsonian virtual classroom project: “Vidyo’s Education in Biological Diversity

- More about Vidyo’s platform for Education: Click here.

 

Security: Not All Video Conferencing Platforms Are Created Equal

Last night, Nicole Perlroth wrote an interesting piece about corporate security and video camera hacking issues. The article resonated throughout the web and rightfully so: security is – and should be – a major concern when it comes to corporate networks. Luckily, not all video conferencing platforms are created equal, the VidyoRouter provides a level of security superior to other video conferencing solutions.

The article highlights two key issues:

  1. People are deploying endpoints on public IPs. Why? Because it is too difficult, too expensive or both to place them on their intranet and solve the firewall traversal issue AND they need to be able to connect with people outside of their corporate network.
  2. As directly accessible devices, legacy room systems are inherently prone to hacking when visible in public space, particularly when they ship by default with the auto answer feature turned on (as is the case with Polycom). The way these devices are accessed is dialing of an IP string from another legacy endpoint. There is no layer of protection between the two.

Here’s how Vidyo addresses these issues:

  1. VidyoRouter Cloud Edition enables customers to solve firewall traversal as a deployment option without buying expensive dedicated equipment or paying for special licensing. By deploying a low cost VidyoRouter appliance inside the corporate network and another in the DMZ, firewall traversal is achieved natively and transparently from the user’s perspective by establishing explicit IP to IP rules on the firewall between the two trusted and secured devices. Using this approach, it becomes easy to keep all of the room system endpoints on the corporate network, behind the firewall, without sacrificing performance or accessibility to the rest of the world, and without adding cost to deployment.
  2. All of the Vidyo endpoints connect through the VidyoRouter and are not directly accessible from another endpoint. The VidyoRouter inherently provides the endpoint with a layer of security from third party hacking and voyeurism with technology built in for spoof prevention (other devices can’t pretend to be a trusted part of the Vidyo network), encrypted token technology for session security, HTTPS with certificate support on login, and TLS with certification for signaling as examples. It is not possible for a would-be hacker to connect directly to a Vidyo endpoint that is on the public network simply by dialing an IP address as is the case with legacy video conferencing endpoints.

Bottom line: Vidyo’s architecture not only delivers higher performance in terms of user experience over converged IP networks, but it also prevents the kind of malicious voyeurism legacy endpoints are susceptible to when left in public space with the auto-answer feature enabled.

 

CES Show-Goers at ShowStoppers: Make Sure to Stop by Vidyo!!

Tonight the ever-exciting CES 2012 ShowStoppers event will take place in Las Vegas … and, as always, the level of “WOW” will be off the charts as new products and groundbreaking technologies vie for the attention of CES attendees. Vidyo’s contribution to the excitement this year is sure to generate a lot of WOW electricity!

Vidyo was able to get multipoint video conferencing up and running on Amazon’s new Kindle Fire – and tonight at CES ShowStoppers we’ll be showcasing this as another proof point of how Vidyo has lead the way into a new generation video conferencing solutions.  We’ll also be featuring the latest platform support for its VidyoMobile™ HD video conferencing software client: Android 4.0 ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ running on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smart phone. The new Android mobile platform will be part of a live, multi-point, global video conference connecting an extensive variety of endpoints on iOS and Android mobile devices including Kindle Fire, plus desktops, laptops and room systems. ShowStoppers takes place tonight from 6 to 10pm in the Lafite Ballroom of the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas.

And – while you’re at CES this week – you can also find Vidyo at the Alcatel-Lucent Booth – #31412 South Upper Hall  - as Vidyo teams with Alcatel-Lucent and other ng Connect member companies to provide a glimpse into videoconferencing and broadband-enabled service concepts in the transportation, public safety and healthcare industries. According to Jason Collins, Vice President of Emerging Technology and Innovation at Alcatel-Lucent, “Vidyo is an ideal fit for the ng Connect Program, where we show how high-bandwidth networks can transform specific industries to spur excitement about future possibilities. The integration of live videoconferencing, by leveraging Vidyo’s ability to deliver a high quality, flexible video conferencing solution over a range of devices, helps the service concepts achieve an even greater impact and a more compelling value proposition.”

And don’t forget to check out the Vidyo-based retail kiosk demo — part of the Connected Retail Experience demo in the Verizon booth (Las Vegas Convention Center, South Hall, Booth #32059)! Vidyo is teaming with Verizon Wireless to showcase sophisticated HD videoconferencing over a 4G LTE network that can help make shopping more fun for consumers and more profitable for retailers.  In the Connected Retail Experience, a Virtual Personal Stylist (VPS) shows how shopping for new clothes can become both an easier and a richer experience over the 4G LTE network.

We hope you are having a fun, productive time at CES … and hope to see you at ShowStoppers tonight!

Four Surefire Signs Your Video Conferencing System May be a Clunker

The first sign of real trouble was when my car began stalling at red lights. On the happy occasion it did manage to remain idling, I’d gently press the accelerator only to lurch awkwardly into the intersection. The car would then shimmy violently until reaching its maximum cruising speed of 37 miles per hour. Before braking, I’d learned to crank up the radio to mask the unsettling sound of metal grinding against metal.

It’s never easy to watch a prized “hot rod” deteriorate into a rattletrap. Likewise, it can be hard to admit that a once state-of-the-art video conferencing system is now a clunker.

At Vidyo, we applaud the many forward-thinking companies who have taken the leap and invested in video conferencing. Visual collaboration is unmatched as a communication tool in its ability to convey meaning and enable natural, fluid conversation. When done right, it can deepen working relationships and make meetings dramatically more productive.

Unfortunately, video conferencing has historically required companies to purchase loads of costly, ill-designed hardware which – like my 1987 Ford Taurus – promised only a bumpy ride to certain obsolescence.

If you can relate to any of the following, it’s safe to say the wheels may be coming off your video conferencing system:

  1. Retreat to teleconferencing – Does your video conferencing equipment collect dust while your users huddle around old-fashioned speakerphones? Many systems are underused due to frustrations caused by lack of quality and ease of use.
  2. Room-centric video conferencing – Are your video conferencing sessions limited to meeting rooms?  Users need the flexibility to seamlessly bring people on desktops, smartphones, tablets and room systems into the same multipoint meeting.
  3. Standard definition resolution – Has no one joked that you repurpose your video conferencing screens for a Super Bowl party? Users now expect the same HD quality in the workplace that they’ve grown accustomed to in their living rooms. Standard definition can’t deliver a life-like, face-to-face meeting experience.
  4. Unnatural, delayed conversation – Do your meetings suffer from poor image quality and unnatural delays in the video stream? Your legacy system likely depends on antiquated multipoint control units (MCUs) and transcoding gateways that create latency and poor audio/video synchronization. Video conferencing is most successful when it replicates the fast moving give and take of in-person conversation.

Rather than simply toss out your outdated hardware, Vidyo has created a program to help organizations trade up – in a way that makes financial sense – to a better system. For a limited time, organizations can receive a credit toward the purchase of a Vidyo solution when they trade in a legacy room system. The credit goes as high as $5000 for each room system that is replaced with Vidyo.

Click here to request information about trading up to Vidyo personal telepresence.

 

 

Federal E-Rate Program Helping K-12 Classrooms Travel the Globe

It’s easy to forget that one of the greatest discoveries of modern science began with a field trip. An inquisitive undergraduate at Cambridge University with a fascination for the natural world was given an opportunity to leave the classroom and set sail. This voyage from England to the shores of South America resulted in the theory of natural selection and catapulted the amateur naturalist, Charles Darwin, into the history books.

We can all recall participating in field trips of our own during our school years. Those bumpy rides at the back of museum-bound yellow buses may have helped us identify with Darwin’s bouts with seasickness, but our destination was most likely some place across town and not the exotic Galapagos. New technology, however, is helping resurrect the adventuresome spirit of Darwin, offering children access to learning opportunities not just around the block but around the globe.

We recently had the good fortune to see this new kind of learning in action at the San Carlos Charter Learning Center (SCCLC). Vidyo’s platform for education provided 22 California middle-schoolers the opportunity to spend an afternoon at a museum in Denver, 1,289 miles from their Bay Area classroom. The students participated in a virtual class on the circulatory system, and in the true spirit of scientific inquiry, they each got the chance to virtually dissect a sheep’s heart.

“The students and I formed a relationship with the science educator in Denver, and at a point, the monitor disappeared and it was as if he was in our classroom as one of us.”

“Seeing a heart on an iPad made learning accessible and interactive in a new way the students had never experienced before,” explained Ben Sibrack, a science and language teacher at SCCLC.  “The students and I formed a relationship with the science educator in Denver, and at a point, the monitor disappeared and it was as if he was in our classroom as one of us.”

Virtual field trips can bring course material to life in ways not possible with traditional, less interactive learning.  “We got to have our lesson in a whole new way. I thought it was really cool, different and fun,” explained one young student.  Another 6th grader surprised us by revealing, “I liked the virtual trip better than a real field trip because I can focus better in the classroom.”

Only a few short years ago, video conferencing was reserved for the Fortune 500 and universities with deep pockets. Today, however, HD-quality, multi-person conferences can take place over ordinary broadband networks and off-the-shelf computers already installed in most classrooms. To help schools make video conferencing an affordable reality, Vidyo is announcing that our education products are now eligible for discounts through E-Rate, a federally funded program that provides assistance for schools and libraries to purchase telecommunications and Internet access.

Museums, zoos, research institutes and theaters are embracing virtual fieldtrips via video conferencing as a way to expand their educational mission and reach a wider array of learners. A classroom today can travel to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, LA to learn about the attack on Pearl Harbor, visit The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center to take a virtual walk through forest canopies, or learn how to prepare a space shuttle for lift-off at NASA’s America’s Spaceport: John F. Kennedy Space Center. We hope that E-Rate and virtual field trips will help to democratize education by making world-class learning resources available to all learners.

“There’s so much potential with what we can do with HD, multiparty video conferencing over the Internet.  It gives us the opportunity to really break down barriers and change how we educate, in a way that was never thought possible a few years ago,” explained Mr. Sibrack. “With the kind of video conferencing that Vidyo delivers, we’re able to easily set up collaborative educational communities between schools within the Bay Area.  For that matter, we’ll now be able to set up collaborative communities across the U.S. and internationally as well.  These possibilities are amazing.”

I came to the United States to study and be part of the computer revolution.  Today, our schools are challenged to provide the level of educational exposure required to keep our students competitive with the world.  I believe one of the issues is that schools don’t have access to experts locally but, ironically, the United States has the largest resources of such experts in country – making it a distribution problem. Vidyo conferencing and communications solves this problem by bringing the experts closer to students and by making educational content available virtually from everywhere.

Click here to learn more about bringing Vidyo to your classroom through the E-Rate program.

Who’s First? The Race for Mobile Video Conferencing…

…And does it really matter?

      • December 2010 – Elisa service on Galaxy- first mobile service offering
        by a telecom provider on a tab and phone
      • August 2011 – Vidyo’s mobile client is available in the Apple App Store
        delivering multipoint HD videoconferencing for both iPhone and iPad
      • October 2011 – Polycom announces first enterprise HD video software
        solution for tablets

Who was first? Others have called out Polycom for making this false claim.  While Vidyo was both first to demo multipoint video conferencing on a mobile device (January 2010 in Paul Otellini’s CES keynote) as well as deliver multi-party videoconferencing on a smartphone and tablet, the real issue for enterprise decision makers is not about who is first, but about who can deliver a complete solution. With the memory of Steve Jobs still in sharp focus, I’m reminded that it is not about a specific product, but about delivering for the user the most satisfying effortless experience.

With the memory of Steve Jobs still in sharp focus, I’m reminded that it is not about a specific product, but about delivering for the user the most satisfying effortless experience.

In videoconferencing, porting an application to run on a device is only a small part of the requirement—this just delivers the potential for a personal video communication device. Having an intuitive UI for entering and interacting within a videoconference is another part of the experience. But the most important aspect is the actual video interaction that makes the communication experience natural and engaging. The challenge is that mobile devices use wireless networks—WiFi, 3G or 4G—and packets will be dropped and bandwidth may be limited as well as highly variable. And, an enterprise quality solution must be capable of multi-party conferences that enable communication with other mobile devices as well as desktop and room system participants who may encode at far higher resolutions.

Delivering on this challenge requires a completely different infrastructure architecture than what is offered by the old market leaders such as Polycom whose MCU architecture was designed for perfect connectivity such as provided by ISDN, and has now developed Band-Aid approaches including Forward Error Correction, Loss Packet Recovery and others to deal with the Wireless.Wild.West non-guaranteed QoS bandwidth. The result is lackluster performance and increased overhead that further exacerbates the challenging network conditions.

And the bad news gets worse for legacy MCU architectures when it comes to multipoint. When you have a mobile device interacting with another mobile device and an HD room system, the MCU transcodes and gives the gift of additional latency. Since it must transcode to enable disparate devices to be in the same multiparty meeting, it degrades the video quality in the process as well as adds delay. The problem is that for a natural interaction to occur on a mobile device, there just is not any time available for transcoding. Sure you can do it, but the experience is no longer satisfying. You’ll speak over each other, develop a tendency to pause before speaking, and other unnatural behaviors that will make you long for just a phone call or in-person meeting. Clearly, not an “Apple-quality” solution.

Vidyo was built with mobile devices in mind. Vidyo pioneered the use of the recent video compression standard—H.264 SVC— in video conferencing because it enables a latency-free way to adapt to packet loss.  Vidyo created an architecture that intelligently routes packets to each participant’s device based upon the resolution required, computational capability and bandwidth available, and to do so by dynamically adapting many times a second to changing conditions. And in a multiparty conference, it does this without transcoding so it maintains original video quality and adds less than 10msec delay because it makes packet routing decisions with no need to perform complex computational gymnastics. The user experiences natural HD quality multiparty videoconferencing that is engaging.

While this alone differentiates the Vidyo solution, the win for an enterprise deployment is that the Vidyo infrastructure can be deployed for 10% of the cost of the old Polycom MCU architecture. A single 1U VidyoRouter device can support 100 simultaneous participants. VidyoRouters can be geographically deployed to minimize bandwidth consumption. Since Vidyo is a software solution with central capacity license management, the full pool of licenses is available to all VidyoRouters as needed. The result is a dramatically lower number of licenses required to be purchased. And best of all, Vidyo only needs non-guaranteed QoS networks including internal bandwidth. The cost savings of moving away from dedicated video networks may pay for the entire Vidyo infrastructure!

So maybe this is why Polycom resorts to a misleading announcement. It craves for leadership, but it’s saddled with an old architecture that just can’t.

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Marty Hollander

Marty Hollander is Vidyo’s SVP of Market Development. With more than 20 years of high-tech marketing experience, Marty specializes in developing lasting strategic assets through creative market development. Previously, Marty served as Vice President of Marketing at Cemaphore Systems, Latitude Communications (later acquired by Cisco) and ProactiveNet (later acquired by BMC). He also founded CollectiveSpace and IntelliCorp, where he played a variety of executive roles. Marty has also held senior level positions at Silicon Graphics and Storm Technology. Marty earned an MBA from Stanford University as well as an MS from Carnegie-Mellon University.

 

Video Conferencing on the iPad, iPhone and Android Tablets and Smartphones

While VidyoMobile makes it possible to participate in unbelievably high quality multi-party video conferences over the broadband mobile network while you’re barreling down the highway, only do so from the passenger seat! Texting while driving has become a significant road hazard and is responsible for countless accidents—and texting has very limited engagement.  Just imagine how much more difficult it would be to concentrate on driving if you had a natural HD video interaction that made it feel like the participants were sitting in the car with you.

But there are so many other “safe” ways to use VidyoMobile that improves your flexibility to meet people face-to-face, and independently of whether the “far-end” participants are using mobile devices, laptop or desktop computers, SVC or H.323 appliance based room systems, or immersive telepresence systems. Assuming the iPad2 as the platform (and it really is a video conferencing endpoint in tablet clothing), there are three compelling modalities for the use of VidyoMobile.

Desktop Video Phone

VidyoMobile on a docked iPad 2 joining an HD multipoint video conference at 720p with 4 other laptops. (Note: This picture has not been photoshopped in any way.)

One of the nice things about using popular commercially available devices is ready access to low cost and very cool peripherals. Using an off-the-shelf speaker dock, VidyoMobile can turn your iPad2 into a very handy desktop video phone with a slim foot print.  This enables the user to have a stable hands-free experience with rich audio.  Since VidyoMobile supports shared content viewing and the neat zoom in/ zoom out pinch gestures provided by iOS, the collaborative experience is compelling.  And of course, when you are not VidyoConferencing, you can use it to add music to your work environment.

Mobile Access

VidyoMobile on Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 viewing a shared PowerPoint presentation while joining a multipoint video conference with 4 other laptops. (Note: This picture has not been photoshopped in any way.)

Not all mobility happens in cars.  Could be that a doctor wants to walk down the hall to pick up lab results, in which case she could just pull the VidyoMobile device off of the dock and take the conference with her.  Since VidyoMobile on the iPad2 offers the ability to switch between front and rear facing cameras, mobility also means delivering “see what I see” capability into a conference. For a customer support specialist who is showing an engineer in a remote lab a problem on customer site, a process engineer who wants to show the design house a manufacturability issue on the production line, or a biologist in the field showing a rare plant life to a life sciences class half way around the world, this is mobility at its best.  Of course, mobility may also mean face to face interaction from the back of a cab, on board a train or in an airport.

Ad-hoc Room System

VidyoMobile on iPad 2 joining an HD multipoint video conference at 720p with 4 other laptops and a room system. (Note: This picture has not been photoshopped in any way.)

Did you know that there is an optional HDMI dongle for the iPad2?  Even better, the dongle also supports simultaneous connection to power.  So now the same device that you are able to use in a dock as a desktop video phone, and then undock and continue to use in-transit, can now connect to a large screen 1080P display when you get to your destination so that multiple people can participate in the conference from the same location as the VidyoMobile device.  While the conference room is certainly a popular application, just image taking a meeting or connecting with friends and family from your couch with the conference on your living room TV.

So remember, even though VidyoMobile simplifies the user experience to a screen tap to enter a conference with no devices to configure or manage, please don’t video conference while behind the wheel of a car.  There are plenty of other safe and productive ways and opportunities to use VidyoMobile. Besides, with the ability to meet face-to-face with anyone, anytime, from anywhere, you’ll have less reason to be behind the wheel of your car in the first place.

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More info:

- VidyoMobile demonstration on iPad 2: View on YouTube.
- Full VidyoMobile press release: “Vidyo HD Multipoint Video Conferencing App for iPad2, iPhone Available Now”