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Telepresence Options Interviews ClearOne's Adi Regev
ClearOne is best known for their quality personal and Pro audio gear, which can be critical to providing an immersive and productive visual collaboration experience. However, they haven't been the first company that comes to mind when thinking of the video equipment itself. That is starting to change. In January of 2012 the company announced that they had acquired the Israeli videoconferencing innovator VCON for a reported $4.5M in cash.
The acquisition gives ClearOne a strong portfolio of relatively low-cost, high-quality software based videoconferencing solutions which include room systems, desktop clients and video network infrastructure. These video offerings can be easily bundled with ClearOne's audio gear and move through its existing relationships with distributors and pro-av and IT partners. The company has hired videoconferencing industry veteran Adi Regev, former vice president of products at Vidyo, to head the video conferencing business worldwide. We wanted to get the details so we interviewed Adi to get the scoop.
Telepresence Options: For those unfamiliar with VCON, what did ClearOne get for their $4.5M in the way of employees, products, patents, and R&D?
Adi Regev: VCON had developed a comprehensive portfolio of industry-leading HD videoconferencing solutions comprising feature-rich room systems and desktop video applications, as well as enhanced network management and infrastructure solutions. With the acquisition of VCON, ClearOne now offers a complete suite of audio and video conferencing and collaboration solutions. It also gives us ownership of slew of VCON patents. In addition, we inherited a few channels around the world, as VCON had good EMEA and APAC presence, as well as an R&D team situated near Tel-Aviv, Israel. To sum up, the acquisition of VCON brought us a wealth of knowledge, technology and experience in the growing video conferencing market to complement ClearOne's leadership in audio conferencing. VCON's software-based technology opens the gate to multipoint HD video conferencing for a broad spectrum of applications.
TPO: What is the "sweet spot" in the portfolio for resellers, distributors, and customers?
AR: The ClearOne solution suite hits on few important "sweet spots" for both our partners and customers. Our offerings are affordable, software-based and future-proof. This provides better ROI than the competition's pricy and rigid hardware based solutions. You also get plenty of bang for your buck choosing the ClearOne solutions, as they include a multitude of out-of-the-box features that generally cost extra on comparable products. One area where we really stand out is our the State-of the Art Audio quality and integration options with ClearOne's leading Audio solutions; starting with the personal Chat� family, through the Interact� and Converge� systems, and the groundbreaking Beamforming microphone array technology.
TPO: What is ClearOne's "Killer Feature"?
AR: We have a few... Our Collaborate Room offering packs a punch with out-of-the-box, standard features, like a 4 port embedded MCU (upgradable to 9 port!). Another included power feature is Call Recording, which is initiated and stored directly on the system and can easily be retrieved and shared. Another example is the ability to share your call with an audience by Streaming or Multicasting, also supported as part of our standard offering. Finally, any list of "Killer Features" would have to include ClearOne's best-in-class Audio experience, now coming from the same source as your video.
We also support multiple deployment models, giving the user the flexibility he or she requires. The end user can expand an existing deployment by adding the fully H.323 and SIP standard-based Collaborate Room solution. The end user can also choose to use the ClearOne's Software-based MCU, Management and Firewall traversal infrastructure solutions. Alternatively, those preferring service models can connect our Collaborate Pro to a BYOD service provider or VCaaS; a very cost effective deployment which had become very popular in recent years. Last but not least, users can protect their investment through our Software-based Codecs; keeping systems up-to-date without hardware overhauls.
TPO: What do you see as present and future trends in conferencing audio?
AR: Here are the trends we see:
- The adoption of IP based audio systems will continue.
- Professional quality audio will become the clear differentiator among the VC solutions for both room based VC appliances and Soft clients with USB peripherals.
- We will see continued growth in professional quality Video along with professional quality Audio in the conference rooms.
- There will be more expectations for easy-to-use audio peripherals when using with Soft clients and BYOD applications for personal and group conferencing.
TPO: Have you been able to convert your existing audio distribution channels to video distribution channels?
AR: Absolutely! We are seeing great interest and pick-up from our Pro-AV channels. The combination of our audio, and now video, offerings allows them to provide a complete and better solution, have a potential to increase their average sale and in many cases, allows them to "bridge-the-gap" between the Pro-AV and IT sides of the house and expand their reach. Additionally, in order to expand our own reach we have successfully recruited and added IT & UC-specific distributors, VAR's and integrators to our worldwide list of partners. This offers simple and easily access to our solution regardless if decision are made on the IT or AV side of the house.
TPO: What is the future of videoconferencing at ClearOne?
AR: Even without access to a crystal ball, I can clearly see that the future looks quite bright. There's an increase in the acceptance and adoption of software based solutions and services, a fact that solidifies our direction. Without getting into much details on specific plans, you can expect ClearOne to add visualization and cloud support to the already software-based solutions (this could even include WebRTC support). We will strive to increase simplicity and usability (KISS) to drive adoption while keeping our solutions cost effective. ClearOne will continue to lead with the best-in-class audio and offer simpler and better integration options. Another declared goal is to increase the utilization of the display "real estate" - not exclusively for video conferencing use, but also for high-end steaming and digital signage, technologies we already have in house and are looking to integrate.
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