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Apple Granted a Surprising Patent for an Advanced Multi-View Video Conferencing System for the Enterprise

July 29, 2014 | Telepresence Options

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Story and images by Patently Apple

The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 33 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover an invention that relates to an advanced video conferencing system that includes a multi-view camera system that employs scalable video encoding. On July 15 we posted a report titled "A New Landmark Partnership between Apple and IBM is about to transform the Way Work gets done." Apple's surprising video conferencing system is to compete with Microsoft's Round Table Conferencing device and it's a system that Apple might be able to get IBM to promote in the enterprise.

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Apple's Patent Background

Video conferencing is gaining traction due to the development of new applications and equipment that make establishing a video conference easy and convenient. However, the quality of the video content in the video conferences is generally low. Part of the quality issue relates to the large amount of bandwidth required to send high quality video between conference locations.

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Another part of the quality issue relates to the awkward positioning of the video cameras that are used to capture video of the conference locations. Some configurations employ one or two cameras that provide views of most if not all of the conference location. As a result, the resolution of the video is relatively low with respect to any given participant. To increase the resolution of the video for participants, the cameras are moved closer to the active participant and then moved as different participants talk.

Various efforts have been made to address these issues. One noteworthy effort is by Microsoft and its Round Table conferencing device. The Round Table conferencing device sits in the middle of a conference table and provides a 360 degree view of the conference location and tracks the flow of conversation among the active speakers, such that the audio content of the active speaker is provided to other conference locations along with video content of the 360 degree view of the conference location. As such, close up, high quality video content of the conference participants is available. Unfortunately, the transport of high quality video content from one location to another is very bandwidth intensive.

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