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WSJ: Videoconferencing Options Expand

September 16, 2013 | Telepresence Options

telemedicine

Story and images by Rachel Nielsen / WSJ

One would expect scientists with the institution that gave birth to the World Wide Web to be able to speak face-to-face over the Internet. But what scientists do at CERN, an international organization for physics research, defies most people's expectations.

Consider that a single video session can include hundreds of people. Some 300 sessions a day can take place among the 20,000 scientists affiliated with CERN, though they work in institutes scattered around the globe.

The gargantuan scale and effectiveness of videoconferencing at Geneva-based CERN points to the rapid strides made in recent years in a technology that for decades hovered in limbo, out of reach, a futuristic holy grail.

Indeed, the market for corporate videoconferencing has exploded. Across business, higher education and health care, videoconferencing has gone from a stilted experience on a telephone with a screen to a smooth, integrated part of Internet communications. Today, videoconferencing is giving users on-the-go access from mobile devices, and overcoming the hurdles of disparate systems and devices as it continues a transition from hardware to software to cloud computing.

Market research firm International Data Corp. estimates that companies spent $2.6 billion last year on equipment such as room systems and network hardware--a figure that doesn't even include software or cloud services.

What follows is a look at the wide range of options now available for organizations that want to add videoconferencing, either at the office or on the fly.

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