ITExpo West — Building Better HD Video Conferencing & Collaboration Systems

I will be moderating a session at ITExpo West on Tuesday 5th October at 9:30 am: “Building Better HD Video Conferencing & Collaboration Systems,” will be held in room 306A.

Here’s the session description:

Visual communications are becoming more and more commonplace. As networks improve to support video more effectively, the moment is right for broad market adoption of video conferencing and collaboration systems.

Delivering high quality video streams requires expertise in both networks and audio/video codec technology. Often, however, audio quality gets ignored, despite it being more important to efficient communication than the video component. Intelligibility is the key metric here, where wideband audio and voice quality enhancement algorithms can greatly improve the quality of experience.

This session will cover both audio and video aspects of today’s conferencing systems, and the various criteria that are used to evaluate them, including round-trip delay, lip-sync, smooth motion, bit-rate required, visual artifacts and network traversal – and of course pure audio quality. The emphasis will be on sharing best practices for building and deploying high-definition conferencing systems.

The panelists are:

  • James Awad, Marketing Product Manager, Octasic
  • Amir Zmora, VP Products and Marketing, RADVISION
  • Andy Singleton, Product Manager, MASERGY

These panelists cover the complete technology stack from chips (Octasic), to equipment (Radvison) to network services (Masergy), so please bring your questions about any technical aspect of video conferencing systems.

Charlie Giancarlo on telepresence at VoiceCon

This morning’s keynote speech at VoiceCon by Cisco’s Charlie Giancarlo was polished and entertaining. What jumped out for me was his description of telepresence. He had just demoed video phone calls, then went on to telepresence. My immediate thought was, “yes, a video phone call with a bigger screen.” But Charlie must have met this reaction before because he started to stress the radical nature of telepresence. As you know, telepresence is the idea of putting a bunch of big-screen LCDs around a conference table so it looks as though people are sitting there. HP and Dreamworks have had a system called Halo for a couple of years, but it’s hugely expensive.

Charlie’s point about the novelty of telepresence is that you have to experience it to understand it. He said that after a few minutes of a meeting, you forget that the person isn’t really there, and the subjective nature of the interaction is that it is face-to-face.

The second surprise from Charlie was that the Cisco version of telepresence has a total cost of around $10,000 per month per telepresence room. This seems to be a lot lower than the cost of Halo.

I can believe that you have to experience it to understand it, because of Tivo. TV viewing is a completely different (and much better) experience with Tivo. Tivo owners are all evangelists. They tell their Tivo-less friends that they will love it if they just try it. The friends believe it, but they don’t bother to get a Tivo. Then, when they do, their reaction is “why didn’t you tell me?” and they become ignored evangelists, too. But I still don’t have a Slingbox.