VideoConferencing to the Future

VideoConferencing to the Future

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Video conferencing is not new. While enterprises have been using it since more than decades ago, consumer level video conferencing had just been catching on the trends recently. In fact,  you have probably heard how superior it is to other modes of communication for hundreds or thousands of times. The trend is catching on where small global businesses are sometimes driven solely by the very presence of video conferencing, i.e. their outsourced workers can only be contacted with video conference.

But what makes people unable to stop discussing about it?

For the longest time people traveled by foot across the continent, till different modes of transportation came into the picture. As the pace of life getting faster than ever, evolving technologies and innovative application scenarios give videoconferencing renewed vitality.

Video quality has been improving while the cost is falling. It’s getting more user-friendly, more mobile, and more agile. Video also offers an improved collaboration experience for distributed workers (you can even contact your colleagues in the remote jungle with super low bandwidth!). Its most appealing benefits to businesses, is about it being more cost- and time- effective, reducing significantly travel budgets and pain of the travel journey itself.

Also, not only that it offers lifelike experiences, it also allows for easy adoption and hence widespread use, with industry specific applications.

Lifelike Experiences

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With the audio/video capabilities, delivering these lifelike experiences is getting easier.

Although video technologies are moving towards seamless wide-view video capturing and display along with 3D video capturing, 3D technologies have yet to be extensively applied to videoconferencing, seamless full-view, high quality display has become the major focus for the time being. One vendor to another is only compared by mostly the quality of their video cameras, image stitching algorithms, and video display technologies.

In the audio field, precise multi-directional stereo capturing has become the trend. Low latency and lip-synchronization, high-fidelity audio quality, and spatial positioning are three major factors that determine the audio experience. Of these, positioning technologies are the major determining factor in differentiating vendors.

Behavior recognition, face recognition, character recognition, voice recognition, and other intelligent technologies are maturing. When these technologies are applied to videoconferencing, the human-computer interaction experience will improve significantly, and the sense that distance separates the participants will seemingly be reduced. Telecommunications will then allow users to feel as if the conference is actually held “face to face”.

Widespread Use of Technology

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With optical fibers replacing copper in network construction and the accelerating spread of low-cost and high-speed data services, telepresence technology is becoming more widely available. To meet the requirements of this trend, telepresence technology must be able to support access to various types of equipments and the different customer setups and system components. The integration of videoconferencing with UC systems will support flexible access scenarios through fixed networks, mobile networks, radios, televisions, and satellites. This integration will also realize the unified communications of audio, video, and data that can be applied to various terminals, such as meeting rooms, desktops, and 3G mobile phones.

There are more open and interoperable UC integration solutions that can be completely integrated with soft terminals, such as Microsoft UC system and Huawei eSpace. With these solutions, customers can enjoy IM, audio, video, and data communication through mobile terminals, desktop terminals, professional conference rooms, and e-presentations. Moreover, Huawei’s telepresence offerings support network access methods, such as IP, PSTN, 3G, radio, and mobile satellites. By providing customers with convenient ways to access networks, Huawei’s telepresence solutions help customers experience face-to-face videoconferencing and cooperation anytime and anywhere.

Industry-specific Applications

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Every industry is undergoing a transformation in information technology. With the maturity of high-definition technologies, telepresence systems have been widely deployed in different industries and are playing a vital role in this transformation. A number of innovative applications have been created in areas such as emergency command, e-health, online education, and e-court. Industry-specific telepresence applications are the third major trend for telepresence technologies.

For example, traditional forms of face-to-face medical consultations can barely meet the needs of the medical services industry. These traditional approaches limit the abilities of professionals to share medical resources or cooperate in diagnosis or treatment processes – not to mention the prolonged gap that occurs between the discovery and teaching of a new breakthrough and the time that it is actually put into practice. With the telepresence system, patients can gain convenient access to e-consultations from specialists and experts, professionals can observe and offer guidance during surgeries, and medical students and professors can interact during educational courses.

When it comes to emergency command, traditional operations are characterized by “information islands”, which pose a real hindrance to improved effectiveness in handling emergency situations. Often, command center response speed is less than ideal. Personnel at different sites cannot communicate quickly due to a lack of complete information collected about the incident and ineffective communication where updates or deployed resources are not relayed in an optimized manner. Huawei’s TeleCommand Solution in which all-digital integration technology is applied to a video conference and monitoring system. This solution enables multiple command centers in different locations to cooperate and engage resources through remote communications and provides multi-level visualized command and control. It also provides convenient access for telepresence emergency command vehicles, 3G mobile devices, and individual interactive video equipment. The device helps customers enhance mobile emergency command operations by providing an all-around, easily accessible information exchange bridge for all functional departments.

According to estimates from Wainhouse Research, call agent positions will be reduced by approximately 2.1 million by the end of 2012 as more videoconferencing services become more leveraged. The research organization went on to speculate that by the year 2015 nearly 200 million people around the world would be collaborating through videoconferencing systems.

This is definitely an exciting industry to be in for the next decade!

This article is presented with modifications, originally appears at http://bit.ly/1wIf4mG.