At the recent TMC ITEXPO West 2010 conference, BrightCom’s CEO Bob McCandless, discussed the telepresence and video conferencing industry, the state of video and network technology and the growing demand from consumers for video conferencing from anywhere and at any time.
Mr. McCandless, who has shaped his career around the vision of collaborative computing and technology assisted human interaction, began his discussion by breaking down the current telepresence industry vendors, defining them according to their video offerings in order to point out the current state of video technology.
“If you think about your telepresence and video conferencing infrastructure,” Mr. McCandless stated, “you have your traditional firm ware based systems, [which are] vendors like Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg, and Lifesize. So, if I want to do multiway video conferencing I run [the video streams] through an MCU or I go through a gateway product. I transcode or I take in the multiple signals and re-encode them into a single signal. Your classic video conferencing system is rather simple in the way it works, it can intake a video and output a video. And that is all it is capable of doing.”
“There is another [group] of vendors, that have software based infrastructure [including] Vidyo, BrightCom, and Radvision, They have the vision of taking the software and […] reshuffling the video windows and sending them back out as independent software squares that can be resized and readjusted in real-time. I should include Skype in software infrastructure of products; they also fall into that category.”
Despite the differences, Mr. McCandless cautions the audience, warning them not to label these two groups of vendors as “legacy” verses “future”. He states that both groups have benefits to the way they approach video technology.
However, regardless of these benefits, Mr. McCandless points out that there is a significant need to redefine video technology. He states, “If you look at all the great things that are going on in video today, I would subject that there is nothing new; you have seen all of these things before. We’ve had video encoding and decoding literally for decades. There are no differences in the products of today verses the products of yesterday, other than greater resolution. But greater resolution is more bandwidth. We do have better encoding and decoding codecs such as Vidyo’s [Scalable Video Coding], which is one of the best in the industry. So the ability to do it is there, but in reality, what’s happening right now […] is not on our side of the table yet.”
Mr. McCandless sees the current issue lies in the network layer and feels that this is changing due to the increase demand in consumer based video conferencing. With investments made by vendors like Apple and Cisco and Skype’s video conferencing via a private managed network over the public internet, Mr. McCandless states, “suddenly the consumer is now demanding video products. You all want it.”
Mr. McCandless believes that the consumer demand for video conferencing will result in a shift in network offerings from private to interoperable. As an example, Mr. McCandless analyzed Apple’s iPhone 4 and the inability of iPhone 4 users to use 4G networks due to their partnership with ATT. 3G networks are unreliable for video, stated Mr. McCandless, and Apple’s use of wi-fi is not ideal for businesses trying to have their employees communicate via video.
“This is an undeployable technology designed to merely entice you and seduce you, so that you will demand that network carrying capability from your vendor.”
While that shift occurs, Mr. McCandless feels that it will be necessary for video to be redefined in the minds of consumers and business.
“Today you think about video as ‘I want to see it on a cell phone, a TV, desktop, and it would be nice to bridge to a conference room’. Conferencing vendors have been able to do that for about 10 years now. [In the future] I want it work everywhere, [..] all the time. I don’t want to think about. I want to push the button and make it work.”
Mr. McCandless stated, “BrightCom [is committed to] change the very nature of video and building new ways to reduce bandwidth. That will really define us in 2011.”
While unfortunately conferencing vendors will need to wait until the network problem is solved, Mr. McCandless sees a quick turn around. “As the money continues to pour in from Skype, Cisco, ATT, our partner, Sprint, and Verizon, [and as consumers continue to] force [this] investment, you will get the infrastructure and BrightCom will build the next generation of telepresence products to give it to you.”
BrightCom (BrightCom.com) specializes in creating flexible and affordable video and telepresence conferencing solutions. With unique integrated data and video conferencing solutions, BrightCom offers a wide range of options with Lumina Telepresence and ClearView Video Conferencing to connect people and content from home offices, mobile devices, desktops or conference rooms.