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.

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.

 

 

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.

Video Conferencing Reaches an Inflection Point, and the Disruptor is Vidyo

Vidyo’s vision is to make natural communication universally available. Leading technologists doubted it could be accomplished. Competing vendors believed they could continue selling less for more.

Making natural communication universally available is about delivering standard definition per face, pictures that don’t break and latency below 250 ms for natural interaction. It also means affordable universal access to HD quality for anyone, over any network on any device. We undertook this goal 6 years ago through development of a very unique architecture which leverages the H.264 SVC compression standard. Vidyo has now been granted 10 patents (with 42 pending) for this architecture.

Today at Vidyo, we hear plenty of glowing reports from enterprises, government agencies, medical facilities and SMBs worldwide about the transformational power of Vidyo: how our affordable personal telepresence solutions help them communicate and collaborate better internally and with customers and constituents over desktops, mobile devices or telepresence room systems; how they are finding new ways to work smarter, capitalize on new business opportunities, become more competitive and to help communities recover from environmental disasters or improve the health and morale of those in need; how they are saving money by leveraging a software architecture on their existing smart phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops over the Internet, WiFi, 3G and 4G Networks.

It is gratifying when a leading Wall Street analyst firm – in this case Baird Equity Research – issues a report identifying Vidyo as the “disruptor” in a major inflection point in the global video conferencing market. Here’s the summary from the Baird report and its lead author, senior research analyst Jayson Noland (who you might have watched on CNBC’s Squawk Box program):

“We believe the video conferencing market is approaching an inflection point of more widespread commercial adoption driven by much lower-cost, high-quality enterprise solutions based in software. We believe this architectural shift will prove disruptive for hardware-based providers Cisco and Polycom, who currently enjoy dominant market share.”

Noland and other Baird analysts surveyed the video conferencing market, talking to vendors, resellers, and customers of video conferencing products around the world. They uncovered and present a number of interesting points about the market and its leading players, and they aren’t afraid to name names.

They make a strong case for the move toward the video compression technology standard that Vidyo’s products are based on. You can read the technical details for yourself, but here’s the main point from the report:

“…we believe H.264 SVC-based solutions (software-centric advanced compression technology) and the ‘consumerization’ of IT will allow for increased adoption rates and an expanded addressable market. While several years away, we expect software-intensive solutions to make video conferencing as pervasive as audio conferencing… Currently, Vidyo is the only vendor of size with H.264 SVC product that is generally available.”

Traditionally, video conferencing has been viewed as a big undertaking requiring dedicated rooms, equipment, and network resources. There are enormous costs involved in this traditional approach, as summed up in the Baird report:

“Industry sources estimate that [a] typical, traditional telepresence solution costs $1 million when considering the network and ongoing maintenance costs… Therefore, given the large up-front capex investment in video conferencing equipment and network upgrades, and the relatively intangible ROI, we [...] view traditional video conferencing solutions as hard to justify for many companies.”

In contrast:

“Vidyo has developed an architecture that allows the company to provide enterprise-grade mobility-focused video conferencing solutions at price points significantly below traditional vendors’ prices… With Vidyo’s recently launched VidyoPanorama, the company touts that it can provide a better telepresence experience for 10% of the cost of a traditional telepresence solution, which Vidyo estimates to be approximately $1 million (when considering the hardware, required networking, and ongoing maintenance costs)…”

“Vidyo prices its solutions significantly below Cisco and Polycom while providing the same or better quality video experience.” – Baird Equity Research Report

“While Vidyo seems to thrive in mobile environments, it also can excel in hybrid desktop/room projects, or even simply room environments. In fact, we understand that in a recent large competitive deal, Cisco and Polycom were forced to drop their prices by as much as 3x-4x to compete with Vidyo’s quote, but Vidyo still won based on a more optimal and scalable architecture… Vidyo prices its solutions significantly below Cisco and Polycom while providing the same or better quality video experience.“

Video conferencing makes intuitive sense to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations, but until recently the whole concept has been dragged down by the expense, inflexibility, and difficulty of setting up and conducting hardware-based video conferencing sessions. Vidyo is a “disruptor,” to use Baird’s term, because our software-based approach and underlying technology liberate people from the constraints of the old, outmoded approaches. A disruptive technology or disruptive innovation is “an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network.” Initially Vidyo’s technology was considered to impact only the ‘new market’ – the desktop – but it is now clear that is impacts every aspect and form factor of video communication. The biggest impact which ties it all together is connecting mobile-desktop-room-telepresence across the same infrastructure without transcoding – which gives Vidyo the differentiated advantage of delivering natural video communications, universally and affordably.

The Baird report puts its finger on why Vidyo, and no current vendors dominating the market, represents the future of video conferencing:

“The consumerization of IT, combined with the rise of mobile and remote workers, has created an inflection point for the enterprise video conferencing market, as there seems to be more need and desire for videoconferencing in the dynamic workplace… We view Vidyo’s ability to virtualize and scale as a significant competitive advantage, one in which we do not believe the traditional, MCU-based [i.e., hardware-based] vendors (Cisco, Polycom, LifeSize, RADVISION, Huawei) will be able to replicate given their hardware-centric architectures.”

According to the Baird Equity Group report the future of video conferencing – over the Internet, from any device, in real time and with real clarity – is available now, with Vidyo.

The Wikipedia entry on disruptive innovation also tells us how this all ends:

“…. Meanwhile, upstart firms inhabit different value networks, at least until the day that their disruptive innovation is able to invade the older value network. At that time, the established firm in that network can at best only fend off the market share attack with a me-too entry, for which survival (not thriving) is the only reward.”

If you followed the latest announcements from the incumbents on what their ‘upcoming’ products will do, you may notice it is the same as what Vidyo has been doing for a while. You can see where we are in the cycle. The market is in transition and Vidyo is leading it.

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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.

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.

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”