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Future of Videoconferencing, Telepresence in the Clouds

From high-end systems to mobile devices available

Revolabs’ FLX Conference Phone

How an organization will conduct its future telepresence and videoconferencing activities will likely depend on if it wants to project a “high-end” image, what services “the cloud” offers or when video chatting becomes part of the culture, say representatives of firms that provide that equipment or those services.

Martin Bodley, the president and CEO of Revolabs, a wireless microphone system company, says he has been around audiovisual products for the last 15 years. “I know a lot about the history of video conferencing, and how it’s being adopted, and in the last couple of years the changes have been more dramatic than during the previous 15 years,” he said.

What is changing videoconferencing is the “wide spread adoption” of hand-held devices that have video cameras embedded in them, Bodley said. Laptops, iPads, tablets and iPhone are now being equipped with cameras that face the user, so they can access FaceTime, Skype or Video Chat on those devices. That is making video communication “more and more a part of everyone’s life,” and those user want to see the person they are talking to, said Bodley, who added he has a 14-year-old daughter who constantly engages in video chatting either with her laptop or iPhone. “It’s hard to imagine that young people, once they get to the age where they’re in the workplace, are just going to abandon that,” he said.

Cyviz’s C1

It is likely that in a decade the workplace will look different from what it does today, Bodley said. Desktop phones are incorporating video cameras and high-resolution screens, but the desktop phone might be replaced by a tablet, there is uncertainty over that right now, he said. Nonetheless, he is sure there will always be a need for good audio. “An organization can have the highest resolution screens available, with great cameras, but if you lose the audio, you go back to hand signals,” he said.

So Revolabs offers the FLX Conference Phone, which is a “cutting edge conference phone,” Bodley said. The FLX is a speaker that can provide up to four small and wireless microphones. A user can place the microphones wherever they are needed in a room, he said. In addition, the FLX does all of the signal processing and will remove noise, cancel echo, gate the microphones, turn them on and off, and has automatic gain control, so everyone sounds as if they are speaking at the same level, even if a speaker is a quiet talker and another speaker is “a yeller.”


For those organizations that seek a high-end telepresence product, Cyviz offers its C1 telepresence system, said Mark Sincevich, Cyviz’s director of federal. Everything Cyviz does involves some sort of telepresence, and the firm is “focused on the command and control market, the executive conference rooms,” he said. “And it’s all related to collaborative telepresence,” he said.

“Users can certainly get a conference room, or even a command and control room without video conferencing, but we like to think that video conferencing is part of the whole solution,” Sincevich said. The approach Cyviz takes in producing its products is based on three principles:

  • A common operating environment in which products look and feel the same
  • A building block approach so a user can start with a one-channel wall, or one projector, or one flat-panel wall, and build up as needs and budget allow
  • Simplicity, which involves ease of deployment; ease of use; and ease of operation

Based on those principles, video conferencing conducted using the C1 will enable a user to simultaneously share data applications. The C1 also provides efficient data sharing in full HD resolution, creating flexibility for the user. While conducting a videoconference both parties can place relevant information on the screen “on the fly,” either as a separate “picture in picture” (PIP), or embedded in the conference window. In addition, Cyviz provides the “Collaboration Suite” as an optional feature of the Cyviz C1. The organic shape of the Collaboration Suite encourages round-table discussions while keeping the focus on the main display, and the seats provide comfort during long work-sessions, the company says.


Haivision’s Mako

Haivision obtained a position within the telepresence market because it makes encoder technology—specifically the codec engine known as Mako—that is used in the telepresence industry, said Peter Maag, Haivision’s executive vice president. “We don’t actually have out of the box telepresence systems, but our codecs are used to put together custom communications systems,” he said. “In other words, beautiful audiovisual communications systems are put together based on highly advanced codec technology,” he said.

T he Mako codec is a bidirectional, high definition, computer graphics communications system that offers the high HD quality, and the lowest latency, Maag said. The Mako system achieved 70-millisecond end-to-end transmission latency, compared to the transmission latency of traditional telepresence or video conferencing codecs that are recorded at 200 milliseconds or above, he added.


For those organizations that need teleconferencing, but have limited budgets, there is the online-service provided by Nefsis, which is a multi-point, video, online conferencing service, said Tom Toperczer, Nefsis’ vice president of marketing. “This is a case of online services and cloud computing starting to overlap and become a category within an established industry,” he said.

H ow Nefsis works is a user obtains a license, which allows access to the service through the “cloud,” Toperczer said. The user can then use the service in a conference rooms or at desktops, he said. Despite being cloud based, Nefsis delivers the same HD video quality that would accompany a boardroom installation, he added. But it is done with inexpensive webcams and off the shelf video peripherals, he said. The benefits for users are lower costs and it is much easier to maintain and expand. An example of how it might be expanded is an organization that has multi-point video, might want to reach desktops and multi-purpose conference rooms, but it does so without the need for onsite infrastructure, he said. “That’s the whole point of cloud computing, all of those infrastructure components disappear,” he added. “They simply become something that’s built into the cloud.”


Those who still want a videoconferencing infrastructure can look to Vaddio, which offers the Hot-Shot Preset Camera Controller, said Kelly Perkins, Vaddio’s CTS marketing and communications specialist. Vaddio’s approach is to partner with video conferencing manufacturers such as Polycom, LifeSize and Tandberg, and enhance the codec in the products they create. In addition, Vaddio offers products like the Hot-Shot, which adds automated PTZ camera control to a videoconferencing system camera.

Vaddio’s Hot-Shot Preset Camera Controller

By using the camera presets stored in the codec, the Hot-Shot controller can be externally triggered by any number of different trigger devices such as a microphone switcher/mixer, StepVIEW presence-sensing mats, AutoVIEW IR sensors, the new PresenterPOD or any other triggering/logic output device, Perkins said. Each Hot-Shot controller can control up to 36 presets.

Currently the Hot-Shot preset recall commands work with the Polycom HDX-8000 and HDX-900 Series, LifeSize Room System Series, TANDBERG C40, C60 and C90, and the older TANDBERG 6000MXP and 3000MXP Series. The Hot-Shot is good for council type meetings because it set presets in the cameras which are geared to different seats, so each camera is preset to point and shoot at each specific location when the person sitting there is speaking, Perkins said.