Telehealth Trailblazers

During the week of ATA 2012, Vidyo hosted our inaugural Healthcare Advisory Council meeting on May 2nd  at our Executive Briefing Center in Redwood Shores, CA.

Council members participated in a dynamic exchange of current use cases, future trends and best practices in healthcare using video conferencing solutions from Vidyo.  A common theme emerged as council members recounted the benefits of expanded access to quality healthcare through the use of Vidyo between endpoints such as the iPhone, iPad and Android mobile devices.  Please review this 5 minute highlight video if you want to understand how Vidyo, along with these thought leaders, are demonstrating the vision that is needed within Healthcare today.

Vidyo Co-founder and CEO, Ofer Shapiro, delivered a presentation highlighting recent announcements to the Vidyo portfolio and engaged in dialogue with the council members about video conferencing needs in healthcare. At a time where healthcare expenses are rising at astounding rates, Vidyo technology is enabling patients to see the appropriate healthcare professionals without having to leave their homes.  Vidyo is also enabling consults between healthcare professionals to occur in a timely manner between locations only limited by the reach of the internet.

Also presenting at the council was Dr. Dale Alverson of the University of New Mexico and Dr. Jeff Kessler of the Georgia Partnership for Telehealth.

Dr. Alverson, a past President of ATA, talked about the global aspects of International Telehealth, specifically discussing the ability of doctors in the Amazon to meet with remote patients and local healthcare professionals while working from a floating clinic.

Dr. Kessler revealed that the number of Telehealth patient encounters in 2011 in GA alone was over 40,000. The fields of psychiatry, neurology, Telestroke and rural patient care have been most aggressive in utilizing video conferencing thus far, and expansions into many other fields are rapidly emerging.

Council members and the Vidyo executive team came away from the meeting with a great deal of excitement about the future prospects of Vidyo-enabled telemedicine and Telehealth solutions to improve the quality and decrease the cost of providing critical services to patients around the world.

Mobile Telemedicine: Interview with SBR Health CEO Chris Herot

SBR Health Demonstration at Vidyo's Booth at ATA 2012 (Booth #936)

Everything is moving to mobile these days, and healthcare is no exception. Christopher Herot, co-founder and CEO of SBR Health, is a recognized business and technology leader who has spent years developing and evaluating video, mobile and real-time video communications solutions. In this one-on-one interview, Chris shares his thoughts and predictions on how mobile technology will transform the healthcare space and beyond. From how we buy care and keep in touch with family, there are many examples of things that are being impacted by mobile.

How have you seen this shift?

There was a time when every young ambitious professional had a day planner. The iPad is now the equivalent. It’s your phone, calendar, email, entertainment, and computer – your method of communication for everything. This has really transformed a number of industries. Retailing is now different. People can do comparison-shopping using their phone. It’s even changed travel to some degree. You can get your boarding pass on your phone and check into places on Foursquare. For the longest time, it looked like healthcare was not a tech-savvy field but this is quickly changing.

What role does mobile play in the healthcare space?

iPads are taking the medical world by storm. They’re just the right form factor for healthcare. Apple reimagined what you can do with a tablet and has provided for an entirely new experience. Doctors don’t want other tablets. They want the iPad.

Some thought early tablets failed in terms of usability based on size but Apple demonstrated it wasn’t just about size but more about the user experience. There’s something truly unique about being able to type medical information while looking at your patient. This increases physician-patient engagement.

What’s the benefit?

There’s proven clinical value. Tablets have given doctors better access to tests and other medical information. A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that iPads help doctors be more efficient at ordering tests and procedures for their patients. My thesis is that iPads allow physicians to do more in real time and make healthcare more convenient.

The real and long-term benefit of mobile technology is in bending the cost curve in healthcare. This goes beyond getting doctors to accept lower fees and cut down on unnecessary tests. The bulk of the cost is to get Americans to stop eating so many donuts. The way you make people healthier is to make it easier and convenient for people to see their doctor. This will drastically cut healthcare costs.

Why?

The demand for mobile reflects where we’re at as a society. The doctor is not always in his office ready to take your call, and so many of us are on the go. Being able to get access to the healthcare system wherever you are – work, home, out and about – is really critical. To make that work, we have to be able to see the patient and share what we see with other people. Tablets are small enough to be portable but also have real data on the screen.

How will this be adopted?

It will happen fastest where the payment model is evolving away from the fee for service. You’re seeing this with concierge practices. Once you make it easier for patients and doctors to do a virtual visit, I expect that will serve as an example to other parts of the world. There are places like the payers and insurance companies who see this as a way to improve healthcare delivery. You’ll see this first in places that have the luxury of not having to worry about restrictions. Concierge and post-acute follow up are prime examples.

SBR Health is developing the technology that will enable videoconferencing and real-time communications to benefit patients and doctors alike. Healthcare outcomes improve when collaborative communication that’s convenient takes place among doctors, specialists and patients, and we’re working to make it as simple and secure as possible.

 

SBR Health’s solutions leverage Vidyo’s technology and are currently demonstrated at ATA 2012, at the Vidyo booth (#936). For more information about our demonstrations, panels and presentation at ATA, click here.

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 Selected by IBM as Only Video Conferencing Application Partner to Join PureSystems Global Rollout

Vidyo is among the first application providers to be certified on IBM’s new family of expert integrated systems.

Communications is a critical service that demands very high availability. In contrast to a telephony application, videoconferencing has not been expected to be reliably available at the same level. For videoconferencing to be viewed as a widely deployable communications service by IT, it must vastly improve to become a dependable utility. Large organizations and service providers have found that employing virtualization dramatically improves high availability by abstracting the application from the physical hardware, and enabling deployment on-demand to any available server. This may be the key for video communications when deployed in large scale to support personal devices.

Vidyo has moved rapidly to support deployment in virtualized environments. Near the end of 2011, Vidyo announced that it had virtualized the media plane for videoconferencing and Ofer Shapiro, Vidyo’s CEO, made the statement, “Vidyo’s virtualization of the media plane is as significant to the video conferencing industry as VMware’s virtualization of the compute plane was to the data center.”

Just last month, Vidyo announced the VidyoRouter™ Virtual Edition, and demonstrated this running on VMware at Enterprise Connect. Today, Vidyo is thrilled to make IBM’s list of business partners certified as ready for PureSystems.  With this certification, we are excited to change the enterprise IT experience as we know it and welcome our customers to the next era of videoconferencing reliability and scalability with availability of VidyoRouter VE this summer.

Vidyo is uniquely positioned to deliver video communications as a virtual application.  Vidyo’s endpoints and infrastructure components are software running on general purpose processors. But the key factor is that the multipoint requirement for rate and resolution matching is performed by merely making intelligent packet routing decisions upon encoded packets. This is a lightweight computational task compared with the resource intensive challenge of transcoding required by all of the legacy vendors to deliver equivalent functionality. With Vidyo, the media plane is easily virtualized, consumes resources efficiently and scales to support large numbers of simultaneous connections. Perhaps this is why IBM selected only Vidyo as a videoconferencing application partner to participate in the global rollout of IBM PureSystems.

Organizations need to be confident that video communications will be “always available” if they make it core to their communications platform. Now with Vidyo’s leadership, organizations that want to deploy highly available videoconferencing multipoint infrastructure can do this as a virtual application, so the hardware variable is removed from the reliability equation. With Vidyo, everyone can meet face to face, remotely, with confidence.

To read the full IBM press release, click here!

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.

 

Vidyo Demonstrates HD Video Conference Connecting VidyoPanorama System to Kindle Fire and Other Mobile Devices

ISE (Integrated Systems Europe) 2012 is one of the largest professional AV and systems integration trade show ever held in Europe.  Though the conference ends today (2/2), we’re happy to report that Vidyo’s demo – hosted by COMM-TEC — created big buzz, generating much interest among the many in attendance — manufacturers, distributors, integrators, and technology managers from over 100 countries worldwide.

The Vidyo demo focused on the flexibility and interoperability of our groundbreaking high definition, software-based video conferencing solution.  It featured the VidyoMobile client running on some of the most popular iOS and Android tablets and smart phones — including the Kindle Fire, iPad®2, iPhone® 4S, in addition to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smart phone running Ice Cream Sandwich.  All of these devices were connected live with one another and with VidyoDesktop and VidyoPanorama systems located across the world, in a multipoint, HD video conference, over wireless and public Internet networks.

It blew the socks off of ISE attendees.  But don’t just take our word for it … check out this short video clip featuring Vidyo’s own Fraser Dean, sales director for Vidyo UK, showing a Vidyo conference on VidyoPanorama (Vidyo’s  groundbreaking personal telepresence solution that delivers the industry’s first affordable 1080p at 60 fps solution supporting up to 9 screens) that was accessed on an iPhone 4S!  We think that’s pretty darn cool.

 

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.

 

Vidyo Helps Haiti Medical Education Project Rebuild Haiti’s Healthcare System, Donates VidyoConferencing Solution to Help Train Local Doctors

How about an uplifting news story for a change?  Here’s a short but important CNN video clip that aired over this past weekend.  As we mark the second anniversary of the earthquake that demolished much of Haiti, many of international news reports have focused on the fact that there is still so much that needs to be done to help this ravaged country.  But here is one very positive account of countries, universities, medical practitioners and Vidyo (!) coming together to ensure that Haiti’s own medical community is restored and able to thrive into the future.

The Haiti Medical Education (HME) Project — a non-profit (501c3) organization, established by international healthcare providers, academics, and social activists — was founded in 2010, following the devastating earthquake that brought worldwide attention to Haiti and its people.  Working in alliance with Haitian medical leadership, faculty, and students to preserve and further the education of the many displaced Haitian medical students affected by the earthquake disaster, its mission is to restore and build upon both the physical and curricular infrastructure of existing Haitian medical schools and teaching hospitals, to ensure that the next generation of Haitian doctors and medical leaders are ready to care for Haiti.

When HME coordinators identified “distance learning” via video conferencing as the best and fastest means to reactivate medical classes in Haiti, they were initially dismayed at the problems they encountered with most video conferencing systems they tried.

Dr. Galit M. Sacajiu, President and Medical Education Director of HME, explains: “Haiti’s problematic Internet connections and typically antiquated computer hardware presented major challenges when we first attempted to initiate remote classes via video communications. Vidyo was the only solution that was able to make these critical video connections at all possible. Vidyo’s capacity to support video conferencing under less-than-optimal bandwidth conditions was key to getting us up and running.”

VidyoConferencing used in Haiti by Medical Students

Since Vidyo’s products do not rely on specialized networks or equipment and can deliver quality video with even limited broadband connections, Vidyo was able to jump in and provide timely help in for this critical situation completely free of charge.

To date, 60 international medical professors from a variety of medical institutions — including Dartmouth College, Harvard Medical School, Albert Einstein Medical School in the U.S., McGill University and Montreal University Medical Schools in Canada, and Lyons University Medical School in France – have volunteered their time and expertise to enable Haitian physicians/medical students to continue their medical studies through a Vidyo-supported lecture program.   Currently there are 45+ Haitian medical students enrolled in the program and the number is expected to grow as the program expands.

According to HME lecturer and the Chairman of  HMEP advisory board advisor Dr. Brain Remillard, Associate Professor of Medicine and Section Chief, Nephrology & Hypertension, Dartmouth Medical School, “The task of physically rebuilding Haiti’s entire hospital and medical school infrastructure is incredibly complex; if we had to wait for the actual facilities to be constructed, we would lose a whole generation of physicians. Vidyo has helped us offer ‘knowledge without borders.’  What we can do with this assistance from Vidyo is revolutionary; we’re able to use cutting-edge technology to open up the world and the free flow of knowledge to make sure the best and the brightest young physicians in Haiti STAY in Haiti where they are desperately needed.”

At the core of HME’s Vidyo-supported initiative is a weekly lecture series taught by prominent medical educators from Canada, the United States and France who are able to instruct the Haitian students via high-quality VidyoConferencing that is accessed over the Internet, despite low-bandwidth limitations. The remote medical faculty members are able to clearly see and respond to the Haitian students, plus share documents via Vidyo; the students are likewise able to interact with the instructors.

Through this series, not only do Haitian medical students now have the opportunity to receive the needed credits to complete their medical degree, but the country’s practicing physicians are able to keep apprised of the latest medical information and techniques.  The HME project is currently working with at least ten clinical facilities in Haiti.

Haiti's first White Coat ceremony took place last weekend

A proof point of HME’s success was highlighted over this past weekend.  The first-ever Haitian “white coat ceremony”, an event during which medical students are formally welcomed into the doctoring profession, took place at  Quisqueya Medical School (QMS) in Pétion-Ville, Haïti.  During the ceremony, the graduating class took the Hippocratic Oath, which stresses the primacy of the doctor-patient relationship and the importance of compassion in medicine. This ceremony traditionally symbolizes the long journey towards professionalism and healing that all doctors must complete. To these particular Haitian medical students, the event provided an even greater measure of significance and pride.  Vidyo is gratified and honored to play a role in this milestone.

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.

 

 

Open Letter to Wainhouse Research Senior Analyst Andrew W. Davis

Dear Andrew,

I read with great interest your coverage of Cisco’s future multipoint video architecture. I am not sure if it was intentional, but your title selection resonated well with us: we all know what happened to the Empire! We (in the rebellion camp) are happy to see the big players admitting one after the other that all these expensive MCUs they are selling are a really bad investment – thank you for pointing this out.

This confirms what we have been saying all along: it is all about an efficient architecture that can replace the MCU. I did, however want to share my thoughts on some of the technical aspects around the Cisco solution.

The big question is HOW to replace the MCU, without losing functionality? Let me touch on a few aspects of this:

Error Resilience: As you mentioned in your analysis, Cisco provides error resilience using Forward Error Correction (FEC). FEC is a wasteful technique because you spend bits even when you don’t need them. Furthermore, it is particularly bad when error conditions are bursty. You identified this point much earlier in your November 2009 report “H.264 SVC: A Technical Assessment” (P. 25-30, “FEC overhead can range from 20% to 100%”). To make matters worse, the FEC overhead has to be added to the multi-stream overhead. Not to mention the fact that the FEC approach cannot avoid sending I frames, which degrades the quality of the call for all participants, not just the ones experiencing problems. FEC did not work with single-layer AVC and will not work well with multi-stream AVC either.

Personal Layouts and Bitrates: For years the key selling point of expensive MCUs was that you must be able to adapt the bitrate and viewing options to individually accommodate each participant. With the new Cisco solution everyone gets to see “Exactly the Same Thing” (like identical Storm Troopers). What happens with Cisco’s multi-stream solution if you happen to have 3/4 of the bandwidth required for full HD? Do you display the stamp-size 240p? And what if you want to see a 2×2 layout of 4 participants, you show them as 240p images on a 60-inch screen? What happens if some people want to see different people at HD? As you so rightfully point out in your commentary, “the difference is in the significant details.”

Error resilience matters, personal layout matters, and bitrate adaptation matters. And you can get all of them today, not in the future, with Vidyo’s implementation of video switching, using standard H.264 SVC. It’s called Adaptive Video Layering (AVL).

Interoperability: Arguably the most interesting feature of multi-streaming is the promise of better interoperability with legacy systems. From your note, however, it seems that the “native interoperability” claimed for Cisco’s architecture requires a Codian MCU to “act as the gateway between the multi-encoding world and the non-multi-encoding world for multi-point calls.” MOST Legacy devices participating in multipoint calls cannot do their own composition of the multi-stream, so they need someone to do it for them. The advantage, if any, will be limited to a small subset of Cisco’s newer endpoints.

In reality the market has already indicated where it is going, with a roster of Vidyo’s licensees that includes Google, Ricoh, and Hitachi, among many others, and Polycom and Microsoft announcing their plans to support SVC. Wainhouse Research has once again done a nice job in providing its readership with the information necessary to connect the dots with regard to where the video conferencing industry is heading. Everyone now agrees – there’s no future for the MCU.

- Ofer Shapiro.

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Vidyo Co-Founder and CEO Ofer Shapiro

Ofer 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.