Back in May, I was arguing about the true meani
ng of Telepresence
ng of Telepresence. An analyst named Rob Bamforth from Quocirca wrote an article saying that the true meaning of Telepresence isn’t big screens and costly systems – it’s the illusion of being there – and for that he argued that low-lantancy is enough. I for the other hand, thought that low-lantency is only a part of the picture, and that for total immersion one must need eyesight level cameras and all the technical mumbo-jumbo.
Room Systems – anything less isn’t ‘Telepresence’?
But putting aside the exact semantics regarding the *videoconferencing* term called Telepresence, let’s talk about the general concept of tele-presence:
Lets say for a second that I own a business that relays heavily on out-of-office workers – and from all I concern, those workers are just as available in terms of communications, as people that work inside the office – isn’t that telepresence? Isn’t that the notion of having those people ‘here with me’?
From a business, and practical point of view – that is telepresence.
Cisco’s Cius – good for remote workers, but not as widespread as an iPhone
A few years ago, achieving that goal was costly and sometimes impossible. It is mainly because of the work of vendors such as RADVISION and Vidyo that this situation has changed. Scalable Video Coding is the key behind recent developments in both low-cost HD video systems and mobile video conferencing. This relatively new technology allows for high quality video communication over the unmanaged connections, such as the Internet. If the codec couldn’t have the ability to adapt to unstable bandwidth it would be impossible to connect remote workers reliably to a conference call. But now with SVC and broadband – it’s possible. These days, EVERYONE has smartphones that are capable of video communication – so wouldn’t it just make sense to turn them into a small video-conferencing device?One of the first companies to introduce a mobile client for it’s video-conferencing platform was RADVISION. When they released the first version the mobile client, it only had the ability to manage the video conference, not to be a part of it as a video client – effectively making an iPad a neat remote control pad. Today both iPhones and iPads has cameras and the latest version of Scopia Mobile is a fully functioning one – at last, the ability to connect to a conference call when on the go.
Just like the desktop client, Scopia mobile support video-conference with multiple participants (up to 28) and data sharing via h.329 (which is super important for out-of-office workers). But what’s really special about it that it just work well. IMTC is using Scopia internally for meetings and webinars, and in the latest meeting, the VP marketing of IMTC – Kfir Pravda, had to call in while driving, from his iPhone, over a 3G connection. That was a conference call with multiple people around the world, Kfir himself was in Israel!
3G-enabled conference with an iPhone – Amazing!
The call just worked. This is in my view, amazing, knowing how difficult it is to get a decent video-call quality from a 2-way call in a non-commercial system such as Skype (at least here, in Israel). In terms of features, again – that’s a fully functioning Scopia – and on the iPad2 it supports full 720P video.
I think that mobile video clients will create a revolution in video-conferencing, the form-factor is there (tablets), the technology is there (H.264) and the out-of-office situation will probably grew larger and require businesses to adapt accordingly.
Maybe Rob was right and the true meaning of Telepresence is just mobile video-conferencing that actually works.
Here on the IMTC blog we plan to compare a few mobile solutions over the next months, Scopia included. So stay tuned.