Video conferencing has become an important part of unified communications for businesses. The technology allows companies to conduct meetings in a face-to-face manner, even if the people are located hundreds of miles away. It is also in a constant state of evolution, as new players appear on the marketplace, new features are added, and video resolution increases.
Mobile Devices – Mobile devices are now being designed with video conferencing in mind. The BlackBerry Tablet has duel facing cameras and integrated audio processing, and many Android-based tablets offer similar designs. The iPhone 4 also comes with the FaceTime protocol (which allows for smooth video feeds), and the next version of the iPad will have a camera built in to the product.
Consumer Versions – There used to only be high-end versions of video conferencing software available for companies to purchase. This has changed recently as consumer versions and freemium versions have been released to the public. TelePresence now has a cheaper option available, and Nefsis Basic offers two-part videoconferencing for free. This can be of great benefit to small and mid-sized businesses, since they no longer to spend as much to keep up with their larger competitors.
Managed Service Providers – Video conferencing requires a great deal of bandwidth in order to smoothly function. If a momentary spike of lag should occur during a business presentation, it can completely disrupt the meeting. It is thus becoming increasingly common for companies to turn to managed service providers to ensure they have sufficient bandwidth for their video conferencing streams.
Open Source – Several large companies (notably Cisco, Logitech and Polycom) are seeking to establish an open source standard for video conferencing. They want to set up protocols that will allow for multi-screen video screening between the current software and third party systems. If the trend should continue, the interoperability between products will be greatly increased.
Scalable Video Coding – This is a new method for video encapsulation that has gained in popularity as the technology has progressed. It divides the individual frames of a video feed into separate layers that each contain an independent portion of the stream. This can help to maintain the quality of the video stream, even when a substantial amount of network congestion occurs.
Social Networking Integration – Facebook and Skype partnered recently in order to create a consolidated video conferencing platform. Other companies like Cisco have managed to combine social media, voice communication, and videoconferencing into one convenient system (known as Quad). This type of social network integration is likely to grow more common as time progresses.
There is no way to truly predict where video conferencing will head in the future. If the major trends continue and more companies adopt the format, however, it will continue to serve as an integral part of modern office communication.
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