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.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

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.

——————————————————————————————–

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”

Vidyo Wins Best of Interop Award

Just got back from Interop 2011 in Las Vegas … and did not return empty handed!

Vidyo won the Best of Interop award in the Collaboration category, for delivering video communications and collaboration on mobile devices via its recently announced VidyoMobile product!  This is the 3rd time Vidyo has won Best of Interop in this category over the past 4 years.

Here’s some of what Eric Krapf, Editor of No Jitter, and one of the judges of the Best of Interop awards, had to say about Vidyo and its award-winning product:

“VidyoMobile represents a commendable step forward for the industry. Vidyo’s Adaptive Video Layering architecture promises to deliver high-definition 720p video with resolution up to VGA on smartphones and tablets. This is critical, especially in enterprise environments, where lower-quality video and audio act as a constraint upon widespread adoption. VidyoMobile will let enterprises quickly and efficiently deploy a high-quality, bandwidth-efficient video client to smartphones and tablets across the enterprise, helping to drive adoption of mobile video within the enterprise. As such, it is worthy of recognition as Best of Interop for the Collaboration category.”

According to Information Week Analytics, the group that oversees the annual awards, the Collaboration category is extremely significant and relevant to the Enterprise as more and more employees and contractors work outside of corporate offices, bringing the need for real-time, converged applications to the fore. “The goal: improve business by helping people team up in today’s virtual workplace, quickly and easily, whenever and wherever they need to; ensure that employees can locate and collaborate with the knowledge experts they need to succeed; and cut costs while boosting productivity.”

Vidyo CMO Ashish Gupta proudly holding the 2011 Best of Interop Award Winner certificate a few minutes after getting the good news!

The Collaboration category includes products and technologies that facilitate collaboration, such as multimedia, streaming media and voice-based applications. This category encompasses enterprise 2.0 collaboration and social networking products as well as asynchronous and real-time collaboration offerings such as unified communication software and services. This category also covers Web 2.0 tools and services, such as blogs, wikis, RSS and AJAX; streaming media delivery and videoconferencing technologies; portal software; and messaging applications.

According to Ashish Gupta, Vidyo CMO and SVP of Corporate Development, “We were the first to recognize the importance of mobile video communications and collaboration and the first to deliver HD video conferencing on mobile devices. As mobile devices become more powerful and business-critical to the Enterprise eco system, our video communications and collaboration platform will enable partners to build and deliver applications that were not available before, since Vidyo is the most cost-effective, scalable, interoperable and versatile solution in the industry.”

———————————————————————————————————————-

Related Links:

- John Cox’s article in Network World: “Vidyo’s mobile videoconferencing app showcased on iPad 2
- Full Vidyo press release: “Vidyo Wins 2011 Best of Interop Award for Collaboration
- Vidyo Blog post with a video demo of VidyoConferencing on a iPad 2: “See it NOW: Vidyo conferences on iPad 2!

- Vidyo Blog post with a video demo of VidyoConferencing on a Galaxy Tab: “Telepresence: Coming soon to a Galaxy Near You
- Jim O’Neill’s article in FierceVOIP: “VidyoMobile teleconferencing available on iOS, Android devices

- Full VidyoRouter Cloud Edition press release: “Vidyo Architecture Offers Unmatched Scalability and Economics for Large Enterprise and Carrier Video Conferencing”

 

Vidyo Taking Mobile Video Conferencing to the Enterprise

Today, Vidyo announced VidyoMobile, a groundbreaking solution enabling enterprise mobile users on iOS or Android-based smart phones or tablets to join multipoint video conferences with desktops and HD room system participants.

“By enabling devices like smart phones and tablets to participate effectively in video conferences with room systems and desktop users, VidyoMobile is a giant step in making Vidyo’s vision of natural communications universally available a reality,” said Ofer Shapiro, CEO and co-founder of Vidyo. VidyoMobile delivers HD multipoint mobile video conferencing to the enterprise, untethering users and turning popular tablets and smart phones into high performance video communication endpoints with quality available only on desktop computers to date.”

Vidyo was announced as a finalist of the 2011 Best of Interop Award!

Vidyo was announced as a finalist of the 2011 Best of Interop Award!

Vidyodemonstrated the first TV quality multipoint video conference on a smart phone during the keynote address at CES 2010 and this year, Vidyo was honored at CTIA for Mobile Leadership and Innovation with the 2011 Mobility Trax Award for Enterprise Mobility / Mobile Video Conferencing.

Vidyo’s communication and collaboration platform was licensed last year by Elisa  Corporation of Finland which released  the first commercially available mobile multipoint video conferencing service on the Samsung Galaxy Tab and smart phone – the first such service  on any telecom network.

 

Vidyo used its SDK to enable the  Apple iPad 2 to participate in HD 720p multipoint video conferencing within hours of general availability of the device… and today, Vidyo was honored and delighted to be announced as a Finalist for the “Best of Interop” award!

 

———————————————————————————————————————-

Related Links:

- Full Vidyo press release: “Vidyo Wins 2011 Mobility Award at CTIA for Outstanding Mobile Video Conferencing and Collaboration Solution
- Vidyo Blog post with a video demo of VidyoConferencing on a iPad 2: “See it NOW: Vidyo conferences on iPad 2!

- Vidyo Blog post with a video demo of VidyoConferencing on a Galaxy Tab: “Telepresence: Coming soon to a Galaxy Near You
- Jim O’Neill’s article in FierceVOIP: “VidyoMobile teleconferencing available on iOS, Android devices
-
Full Vidyo press release: “Elisa Corporation to Pilot First Multi-Party TV-Quality Video Conferencing on Smart Phones and Tablets
- Full VidyoRouter Cloud Edition press release: “Vidyo Architecture Offers Unmatched Scalability and Economics for Large Enterprise and Carrier Video Conferencing”

 

iPad 2: Vidyo conference! See it now!

Guess it’s no surprise that the iPad 2 is selling like hotcakes. Some analysts estimate that Apple may have sold as many as 500,000 iPad 2s over its debut weekend. Though we can’t verify this, we’d like to suggest that perhaps some of those “early adopters” were lined up for the new iPad because they knew that it would take no time at all before Vidyo would show the world how great video conferencing on an iPad 2 could be!

Yes, we know that iPad 2 owners may have to wait just a little longer to experience Vidyo’s HD (720p) multipoint video conferencing for themselves… but let it be known that Vidyo was, as always, the FIRST to demo HD multi-party video communications on an iPad 2.

Vidyo's 720p video conference on an iPad 2

The faster CPU of the iPad 2 and front and rear-facing cameras make it a platform that begs for HD multipoint video communication and collaboration.  Vidyo was able to use its SDKs to enable the Apple iPad 2 to participate in high-definition 720p multipoint video conferencing within hours of general availability of the device!

The Vidyo Platform now not only supports Apple’s just released iPad™ 2, but also Motorola’s XOOM tablet and the Atrix 4G smart phone.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMHReG45K08

Vidyo was demonstrated as the first TV quality multipoint conference on a smart phone during the keynote address at CES 2010. Since then, the Vidyo platform has expanded to support the iPad, iPhone 4, iPod, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Galaxy S smart phone, the Google Nexus S, multiple other Android phones and tablets, utilizing the VidyoTechnology Software Development Kit (SDK) that is available to partners to create innovative applications.

Vidyo’s SDKs and APIs for mobile devices running Android, Windows and iOS operating systems are available today and are currently used by partners like Elisa of Finland, who released the first mobile multipoint video conference service on the Samsung Galaxy Tab and smart phone.  Additional Vidyo-powered mobile offerings will be announced soon by partners.

The VIDYO logo is a registered trademark of Vidyo, Inc., VIDYO and the trademarks of the VIDYO family of products are trademarks of Vidyo, Inc. and the other trademarks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners.

 

———————————————————————————————————————-

Related Links:

- Full Vidyo press release: “Vidyo Platform SDK Enables HD Multi-Party Video Conferencing on iPad 2, XOOM and Atrix
- Vidyo Blog post with a video demo of VidyoConferencing on a Galaxy Tab: “Telepresence: Coming soon to a Galaxy Near You
- Full Vidyo press release: “Elisa Corporation to Pilot First Multi-Party TV-Quality Video Conferencing on Smart Phones and Tablets
- Full VidyoRouter Cloud Edition press release: “Vidyo Architecture Offers Unmatched Scalability and Economics for Large Enterprise and Carrier Video Conferencing”