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Telepresence Options Brief - Vidyo HD Multipoint Mobile Videoconferencing Available for iOS
October 6, 2011 | David S. Maldow, Esq.
Telepresence Options Brief is a new series of articles from Human Productivity Lab analyst and Telepresence Options associate editor David Maldow. To keep up with latest technologies and companies in telepresence and visual collaboration, David is constantly researching and interviewing market participants and will be sharing some of his conversations in this on-going series.
This Telepresence Options Brief was with Vidyo, pioneers in the use of the video compression standard called H.264 Scalable Video Coding (SVC). This technology continuously monitors the performance of the underlying network and the capabilities of each endpoint device, and adapts video streams in real time to optimize video communication. What this means is that users always get the best possible experience that their system and bandwidth can provide, at any moment in time. (Please see our recent coverage of the VidyoPanorama solution.)
Kerry Ogata, Young-Sae Song, and Mark Noble were kind enough to demonstrate a seven party HD multipoint meeting that included a VidyoPanorama unit, VidyoRoom units, VidyoDesktop units, and VidyoMobile running on an iPad2. It should be noted that I did not attend this demonstration in person. I used VidyoDesktop running on my personal computer to call a VidyoRoom system located on the opposite wall, facing the demo. I was in a videoconference watching a demo of a second videoconference. Inception for videoconferencing! This resulted in a total of eight high definition, bi-directional, videoconferencing signals over the public internet and under my scrutiny for over a half hour. As expected, SVC did its magic and I noticed no call quality issues in any of signals. The image above is an unaltered screenshot of my actual meeting experience.
Each endpoint, regardless of type, is an equal participant in a Vidyo multipoint meeting. In part, this means is that different types of endpoints do not have to dial in at different speeds or protocols. It doesn't matter whether you are using a VidyoPanorama, VidyoMobile on an iPhone, or anything in between. A connection is a connection. Everyone joins the meeting using their endpoint of choice in the same manner, and once connected SVC ensures that each participant can enjoy an experience scaled (or tailored if you will) to the capabilities of the each endpoint with no special hardware or extra infrastructure required.
While I was pleased to see how all types of Vidyo endpoints seamlessly integrate into the overall Vidyo environment, I was particularly interested in seeing VidyoMobile on the iPad. Today, Vidyo formally announced the availability of VidyoMobile for iOS devices on the Apple App Store and its pending availability for Android smart phones and tables. VidyoMobile has actually been available for iOS for some time now, and according to Vidyo it was "the first multipoint, high definition, mobile videoconferencing application." Although some competitors have recently come forward with their own mobile offerings, Vidyo states that it is still, "the first and only company to provide affordable, natural (low latency, no MCU), HD multipoint video conferencing on iOS and Android devices, desktops, room systems and telepresence systems over the same infrastructure."
The iPad, among its many amazing wonders,
is particularly well suited to serve as a Vidyo endpoint. My expectation was that mobile videoconferencing would be a compromised experience. But VidyoMobile on an iPad is actually pretty compelling as a complete HD desktop videophone solution. The iPad camera and screen are more than adequate for a desktop videophone, and an off the shelf stand with integrated speakers brings the sound up to an acceptable level.
For the demo, they used a dock made by Altec Lansing. This base and speaker system works particularly well because it allows one to pivot the iPad from portrait mode to landscape mode which greatly increases the layout options available to the user.
VidyoMobile makes great use of the iPad touch screen interface. Pinching and swiping allow users to switch between layouts, choose which video or presentation to view full screen, etc. The following YouTube video shows more of the UI in action.
VidyoMobile running on a smart phone or tablet isn't a replacement for standard room VC, or even desktop VC. No one is arguing that a full sized screen doesn't provide a stronger face to face connection than the smaller tablet screen. But as a fully functional desktop videophone with complete portability (just lift if off the stand and take it anywhere), it is hard to complain. The fact that VidyoMobile is a free app and works with any Vidyo account means that Vidyo customers who own iPads can instantly have a really cool portable desktop videophone without spending an additional dime. As a bonus, one could hook the iPad up to an external display and use it as a room system. While I did not get a chance to demo this functionality, it could potentially make the iPad a portable room system codec.
Vidyo has always been a game changer, and VidyoMobile is yet another example of how this company likes to set the pace. "Vidyo transformed the video conference user experience by providing natural, HD quality meeting interaction." says Young-Sae Song, VP of Product Marketing. "VidyoMobile takes it one step further by providing mobile customers the opportunity to be equal participants with their colleagues on more traditional enterprise solutions." I can't wait to find out what Vidyo has in store for us next.
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