Video Conferencing Misconceptions

Re-post from blog.cleveland.com | By Pentago  | July 23, 2015

There are lots of ways that you’ll hear video conferencing put down. It’s either too time consuming or too expensive, too confusing or too glitchy, too outdated or too difficult to learn. However, like most new and steadily advancing technology, you may believe these misconceptions if you don’t actually try what’s out there. Video conferencing is, in fact, one of the most rapidly evolving forms of communication technology in the business world and offers major benefits. Missing out due to myths is the last thing you want to do.

 

1. Either Unaffordable or Undependable

Venture Beat reports that part of the reason that the video conferencing market was slow to take off in the last few years is because of the confusion about what the market has to offer. At one point, the technology was either extremely expensive or free but full of enough bugs to make a digital Orkin Man seem like a better investment.

However, with advances in the areas of scalability and interoperability achieved in recent years by companies like Blue Jeans on the Blue Jeans Network, these issues have become a moot point. Unfortunately, the myths that video conferencing is either completely unaffordable with high quality, or very low quality but free, have lived on. Today, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. This also presents an opportunity to get ahead of your competitors and take advantage of the fact that video conferencing is actually very affordable, user friendly and increasingly popular amongst businesses with both large and small budgets alike.

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2. Everyone Has to Be a Tech Wizard

For many people, video conferencing immediately conjures mental images of a large, clunky conference room outfitted with complicated hardware and software that you need to be able to learn through several long, boring training sessions.

Thankfully, those days are long gone; anyone can use the simplified video conferencing solutions that exist today. For example, according to seasoned employment recruiter Grace MacDonald on LinkedIn, interview candidates don’t need to be tech savvy. It’s as simple as sending a link via e-mail, and having a laptop or mobile device to join. The same can be said of video conferencing when used for business, and any meeting participants you wish to include. Whether you’re dealing with an IT professional or a technophobic consultant, you don’t need to be a computer genius to reap the benefits of video conferencing.

3. Only Good for Saving on Travel Costs

Everyone knows that video conferencing has cut back on travel costs for employers around the world, but there’s more to it than that. ComputerWeekly.com reports that as video conferencing is adapted across a workplace, beneficial effects begin to organically emerge in terms of collaboration and individual work flow. The fact of the matter is that whenever you start to shift how your employees do business and communicate, it’s bound to have an impact in other areas.

Video conferencing has lots of obvious benefits, but many times, some of the most exciting ones come out unexpectedly. The technology has particularly increased the collaborative nature of work, for example, given that it provides fast and easy accessibility to group discussions. It’s also more efficient than e-mail, especially where creativity is concerned. Imagine if you could have more than one brainstorming session per week, or you could advise a team on a particular project to have a smaller scale meeting more frequently. All of this becomes possible with video conferencing, which is all about improving the quality of communication and making it easier to connect more frequently.

4. A Tool Only for Large Corporations

Video conferencing has traditionally been thought of as a tool reserved for large corporations with entire conference rooms dedicated to only those types of meetings. It’s also historically been prohibitive in cost decades ago, but that’s no longer the case.

Since video conferencing solutions have evolved, many providers have specifically focused on services that cater to small and medium sized businesses. Another reason that this has been possible is due to the fact that there are now so any electronic devices available for people to communicate with. From a traditional desktop computer with a webcam to a small mobile device like a tablet with a built-in camera, the world of business is more flexible and accessible than ever before. You no longer need a huge budget to take advantage of video conferencing, just a few compatible devices. A good way to find out what’s available is to do a little research, and see what kind of investment you’re ready to make. Video conferencing companies offer all different types of plans, and will customize the needs of each individual client, depending on what they are.

Video conferencing has kept up with the mobile, scalable, and interoperable world of technology. Today’s technology is all about compatibility, designed to allow users to access different types of communication platforms using mobile devices or browsers. It’s simple, affordable, and fits into the modern model of how business is being conducted. Don’t believe the misconceptions until you’ve tried it for yourself.

Lifesize Brings Recording to Video Conferencing Cloud

Lifesize Brings Recording to Video Conferencing Cloud

Re-post from www.eweek.com | By Jeffrey Burt | Posted 2015-07-21

Lifesize’s Amplify cloud service lets users record, save and share video conferences through YouTube-like personal libraries.
Lifesize Communications is adding to its cloud video conferencing capabilities by offering a service that enables users to record, save and share their video calls and to house those recordings in a cloud-based personal video library.

Recording and sharing video calls can be done on equipment that’s on the market, but it’s not an easy process, according to Michael Helmbrecht, vice president of marketing at Lifesize. There are multiple steps that need to be taken and videos must be downloaded and stored on a user’s own system. IT support is often needed, content delivery can need extensive networking support, and security can be dicey, Helmbrecht told eWEEK.

Lifesize Cloud Amplify, which is available immediately, is designed to make the process easier, he said.

“We want anyone to record on any device,” Helmbrecht said, noting that users increasingly want to be able to quickly access and share their recordings.

Being able to do so will help a wide range of departments within a business, from human resources professionals who want to record everything from all-hands meetings and training videos to sales groups to capture presentations and share them with prospective customers to teachers who want to keep video of their classes on hand.

Through Amplify, meeting participants only need a single click to record from their notebook, tablet, smartphone or Lifesize Icon video system that is paired with the Lifesize Cloud. The software records not only the video and audio, but also the content shared during the session.

The technology also creates a personal library in the Lifesize Cloud—officials describe it as being similar to YouTube—and automatically stores the recording in the library. Through Cloud Amplify, users can view the recording or share it with other participants. Videos can be added to a watch list, and users can “like” the most popular of them. By tagging colleagues, the recorded video can be added to their personal libraries.

Amplify’s cloud capabilities mean greater control and security for businesses, according to Lifesize officials. Account managers can control who sees the recordings, and automatic reporting features let them meter video usage across their company. It’s also easily scalable.

Lifesize—a division of Logitech—is offering the service as an addition to its annual subscription, with plans starting at $4,000 a year for unlimited recordings and a 15-hour video library. Current and prospective Lifesize Cloud customers can get a free trial.

Helmbrecht said Lifesize officials are looking at ways to expand the capabilities of Amplify, including enabling users to create channels or federate between libraries.

The Amplify service is part of Lifesize’s aggressive push into the cloud, which kicked off early last year under founder and CEO Craig Malloy. The company’s move away from its roots as an on-premises video conferencing hardware maker is in line with the demand from businesses trying to manage such trends as increasing workforce mobility, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and social software. Lifesize has moved quickly to expand its cloud capabilities, including adding a dashboard monitoring system, supporting Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Lync communications platform, and enabling scheduling through Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar.

Lifesize Cloud interoperates with video conferencing products from the likes of Cisco Systems, Polycom and Avaya.

IDC analysts have been tracking the transition in the video conferencing space away from traditional on-premises equipment to software- and cloud-based offerings.

“IDC survey adoption data indicates that video is still a key component of collaboration and continues to place high on the list of priorities for many organizations,” Petr Jirovsky, research manager for IDC’s Worldwide Networking Trackers unit, said in a statement in June. “And customers continue to work through determining how best to provision their video deployments, as more software-centric and cloud-based service offerings become part of the enterprise video market landscape.”

Other established players like Cisco and Polycom also are growing out their cloud capabilities, while a growing number of smaller vendors—like Vidyo, Zoom Communications and Blue Jeans Network—are pushing their own cloud- and software-only solutions.

InFocus Launches Saturn: A multi-configuration video conferencing display system that displays wall-sized, multi-endpoint video conferencing

InFocus Launches Saturn

Re-post from www.telepresenceoptions.com | June 17, 2015 | Telepresence Options

InFocus Corporation (www.infocus.com) will showcase its latest solutions for redefining the conference room, classroom and desktop June 17-19 at InfoComm booth 2017. As it has for nearly 30 years, InFocus will unveil and demonstrate technology, products and services designed to connect people and let them share their ideas across the table, office or globe. New and coming products on display will include: Mondopad 2.0, LightCast technology in projectors and the JTouch Whiteboard with LightCast interactive display, Saturn video conferencing display system and new high-performance HD projectors.

“InFocus is the pioneer of projection and continues to lead the industry in firsts for enhancing communication, learning and understanding,” said Raymond Yu, InFocus President. “This year we will be showing solutions for connecting and sharing information easily, affordably and often, including new technology that allows you to display content from almost any personal device, the latest in affordable projection, the enhanced Mondopad 2.0 touchscreen collaboration system, video phones, tablets, interactive touch screens and a preview of the future in video conferencing.”

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InFocus’ new LightCast technology allows people to wirelessly cast content from their devices – including Android, Windows, Apple iOS and OSX – to a LightCast-enabled display screen or projector. LightCast devices also include built-in whiteboard tools and a Web browser to enable Internet without connecting to a separate device. InFocus will show how people can use LightCast on its Mondopad 2.0, interactive JTouch Whiteboard with LightCast (INF6501c) as well as yet-to-be-released projectors.

Mondopad 2.0, which has LightCast embedded, is an expanded re-boot of the award-winning Mondopad, the first large-format, all-in-one video conferencing touchscreen collaboration device for the conference room, classroom, distance education center and multi-point office. It has new features that make sharing, annotating, archiving and overall collaboration easier, particularly between multiple locations. Specifically, Mondopad 2.0 can pair with a second touchscreen, such as the InFocus JTouch a large-format touch-enabled digital display, to run dual applications, such as video conferencing and PowerPoint files simultaneously on separate screens. InFocus will have Mondopad 2.0 paired with a 65-inch JTouch and will also have its 80-inch Mondopad on display. InFocus offers the Mondopad in 57-inch, 70-inch and 80-inch sizes.

Within the category it created nearly 30 years ago, InFocus will show its new LightCast technology in projection with a preview of the IN1118HDlc projector. The IN1118HDlc is an ultra-mobile projector designed for the road warrior. It has embedded document readers, video player and all the tools for projection on-the-go.

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InFocus will also preview its latest affordable, classroom-optimized IN119HDx projector. At less than $700, this new projector features 3200-lumen brightness and 15,000:1 contrast ratio to fit school and government budgets and the ambient-light levels of most classrooms. The IN119HDx offers full 1080p HD resolution, can project an image size of up to 299 inches (nearly 25-feet diagonal), it is 3D ready and features VGA and HDMI inputs.

Rounding out the projector category, the IN128HDs, which is a color-correct SRGB projector ideal for video applications and designers, will also be previewed. InFocus will demonstrate the IN128HDs alongside an SRGB-accurate monitor so you can compare its demonstrable SRGB color accuracy.

As it has previously at InfoComm, InFocus will demonstrate its affordable and powerful hand-held Q Tablets and the MVP100 video phone. As workspaces become more dynamic — from traditional offices to open floor plans — meeting spaces and conference rooms with display and videoconferencing technology become the primary place for generating and sharing ideas. However, the demand for these rooms are at a premium. With the MVP100 Video Phone face-to-face video calling is no longer restricted to the conference room and takes no longer than the time it takes to dial a phone.

For the first time ever, InFocus will preview its Saturn multi-configuration video conferencing display system that displays wall-sized, multi-endpoint video conferencing and simultaneous content sharing in an executive boardroom, office or headquarters.

“InFocus Saturn is the future of how executives will connect with their employees in big, dynamic ways,” said Yu.

Using multiple configurable ultra-narrow-bezel HD displays, users can customize Saturn for any wall size. What sets Saturn apart from a basic video wall is an integrated video conferencing multipoint control unit (MCU) server that allows users to instantly configure and change each input image to any number of the displays. This allows in-room participants to focus on whatever content they want at any given time, such as a data or video feed from a remote participant. This unique ability to create a user-defined layout and to have control from all kinds of devices makes Saturn ideal for telepresence, data collaboration, multi-stream viewing, control room, distance education and training.

InFocus invites InfoComm 2015 attendees to see each of these products and technologies at booth 2017. InFocus will be giving away prizes and products Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the booth and will also award its authorized resellers EasyMoney cash prizes. See an InFocus representative at booth 2017 to enter the drawings or, if you’re an authorized reseller, to sign up for EasyMoney and become instantly eligible to win cash.

InFocus’ IN119HDx projector, JTouch Whiteboard with LightCast (INF6501c), Q Tablet and MVP100 are available directly from InFocus at www.InFocusStore.com and from select InFocus resellers. InFocus’ new Mondopad 2.0 is available now through InFocus authorized resellers. For more information, to see a demo, or to be connected with a reseller, please visit www.infocus.com. InFocus IN1118HDlc and IN128HDs projectors and Saturn will be formally announced in 2015 and complete details will be available at launch.

About InFocus Corp.
InFocus collaboration solutions drive successful, visual teamwork in large venues, conference rooms, classrooms and workstations throughout the world. Whether using the giant all-in-one Mondopad solution in the boardroom, the MVP100 Video Phone on desks or a digital projector in the classroom, InFocus products and video calling services are the collaboration tools people need to visually present, capture and share ideas. For more information or to purchase InFocus solutions, visit www.InFocus.com or www.InFocusStore.com. Follow InFocus on social media at facebook.com/InFocusCorp, linkedin.com/company/InFocus or twitter.com/InFocusCorp and twitter.com/InFocusEDU.

Surface Hub: Rethinking Videoconferencing and Collaboration

Surface Hub: Rethinking Videoconferencing and Collaboration

Re-post from www.itbusinessedge.com | Rob Enderle | Unfiltered Opinion | Posted 16 Jun, 2015

Last week, Microsoft released the details surrounding the new Surface Hub video collaboration/conferencing system I’d seen up in Redmond earlier in the year. I’ve covered videoconferencing since the late 80s, and this is really the first time I’ve seen a solution that rethinks the basics of what a videoconferencing system should be in the age of high-definition touchscreens and cameras and network performance that we couldn’t even dream about a decade ago.

Why Most Videoconferencing Systems Suck

Videoconferencing systems have had a troubled existence. When Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, was asked what one of his biggest mistakes was, he said it was the decision to enter the videoconferencing market. Not to mention, a lot of companies have burned large amounts of money discovering that it is a money hole.

Now there are several reasons for this. The first is that most systems are really painful to set up and get working. It used to be, you’d have an admin trained to make them work, but most companies got rid of the videoconferencing admin position some time ago. We then added the idea of projecting slides from a laptop computer. Folks would end up spending much of the meeting discovering that their laptops wouldn’t connect to the conferencing system or ensuring that the remote folks could see the slides.

The second was that the primary justification for using the system in the first place was to keep travel costs down. The problem with this is that employees often felt they needed to be on site for other reasons; they felt disconnected and disadvantaged if they weren’t. And they used the frequent flier miles to help pay for vacations, so they were actually incentivized to not use the videoconferencing system instead of travel.

Finally, the quality wasn’t very good. From sound that cut out or wasn’t synced to the mouth movements to video that degraded as bandwidth was pulled, the systems rarely performed as well as they did in demos. So videoconferencing systems that were very expensive (often costing upwards of $100K for a special room) became permanent homes for spiders because they weren’t used.

Surface Hub

I’m going to start by saying if someone had told me about this I wouldn’t get it either. I’m going to do my best to describe it, but you need to actually see one of these things in action to really get why this is different—at least I did. The first thing is that the system’s primary purpose isn’t to get people to stop flying long distances for meetings; it is to help them get a better streaming experience. In fact, I actually think the best product in the line isn’t the $20K big screen but the vastly cheaper small screen, because someone streaming a presentation to a remote audience would find it far more powerful than using a desktop video camera. This is because it presents the speaker and the visual part of the presentation together. It allows the speaker to interact with the presentation material in real time as if he or she was working on a backboard except the speaker’s face remains visible to the remote audience. The side placement of the cameras allows the remote audience to see the speaker’s face while they are working on the screen. This is important, because it is far easier for a remote person to disengage than someone in the room.

This is a 4K experience at the moment, and if you have a 4K TV, the level of realism is far higher than it is with HD—assuming that you are watching the video on a 4K screen—and the result is that it feels more like the presenter is actually there with you. This is incredibly important to keeping the audience engaged, but it also suggests that the remote viewers may also need to be on 4K displays of some type (the display vendors should love this). The screen is full multi-touch, which means tablet skills transfer and if a touchscreen laptop, or one with an operating system that supports touch, is attached, the touchscreen will act just like a touch monitor would.

Where the product truly stands out, though, is in geographically dispersed, collaborative design meetings where complex (i.e., CAD) or architectural projects need to be reviewed. The ability to manipulate and showcase complex designs much like you would on a workstation, but collaboratively, and to a large audience is unmatched in anything else I’ve seen.

Finally, for someone that knows how to use a tablet, the product is drop-dead easy to use, thus showcasing the advances we’ve made in a variety of personal videoconferencing products over the years.

Wrapping Up: Experience Surface Hub to Understand It

Unfortunately, because a lot of folks are jaded by the systems that came before Surface Hub, and because Surface Hub requires personal demonstrations to really showcase its capabilities, I expect sales to be slower than they otherwise would be. However, with more employees choosing to work remotely and an increased need to create collaborative projects cutting across geographic areas, I see this as a potential rebirth and re-imagination of the concept of videoconferencing. And this is really only the start; wait until they add virtual and augmented reality concepts and additional cameras, which will further transform the experience.

If you get a chance, check out Surface Hub in person. You’ll likely be surprised at how far videoconferencing technology has come since you last saw it.

How cloud videoconferencing turned LifeSize around

How cloud videoconferencing turned LifeSize around

The demand for videoconferencing is increasing at a rapid rate, mostly because of consumer tools like Skype and Apple FaceTime, but that doesn’t mean every aspect of videoconferencing is growing. In the case of LifeSize, its leaders found they had to reinvent the company over the last couple of years, shifting from a hardware focus to a software one.
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