VUC Aug 13th: Blink Mind On Video Calling

This coming Friday, August 13th will be yet another Voip Users Conference double-header. Starting at our usual 12 Noon EDT we have an overview of the Freetalk Connect SMB PBX featuring Skype integration.

Then immediately following, at 1pm EDT, we have Chris Veazey, VP Engineering of Blink Mind, to discuss the current state of the industry with regard to multi-media phones and SIP-based video calling.

Blink Mind has agreed to provide a video conference bridge (MCU) as part of their appearance. Further, as Blink Mind are a Polycom partner, Polycom has graciously provided a pair of Polycom VVX-1500 Business Media Phones on loan. One VVX is at Randy’s location in California, and the other in my home office.

As we aim to explore the capabilities of the VVX-1500 and similar desk phones, the video portion of the Blink Mind call with be limited to CIF (352 x 240) resolution using H.264 compression.

The Blink Mind bridge will allow compatible connections from a variety of clients. If you have access to a Polycom VVX-1500 or Grandstream GXV series phone you will be able to join the video bridge. Also, many larger video conference systems will drop down to CIF resolution, so they too can join the bridge.

If you don’t have access to such hardware you may be able to use a compatible soft phone. Rudimentary testing with the Mirial soft phone last Friday proved successful. Mirial is available for Windows and OSX. Mirial is a commercial product, but a 30 day trail download is available.

Since we have a relatively low-resolution video stream this time we’ll be issuing two kinds of connect details for the Blink Mind bridge. Yes, there will be two different SIP URIs for access to the Blink Mind bridge:

  • Some will be able to join in a fashion that allows them to participate in the video stream.
  • Others will join the bridge using a non-participatory SIP URI that gives them a view of the video stream but does not add their video to the MCU feed.

In this manner we will avoid having a 16+ way split where everyone looks like a tiny animated smudge on-screen, as depicted in the following mock-up.

If you have a suitable hardware based means of joining the video conference please let me know. While I hate to be arbitrary, there are a limited number of participatory seats available and preference will be given to those who have suitable hardware.

The details of the non-participatory connection and the web stream will be announced to the VUC mailing list early in the week before the call. We’ll also announce a SIP URI for anyone who needs to test that their end-point is capable of joining the Blink Mind video bridge.

Of course, we will join the ZipDX wideband audio bridge to the Blink Mind video bridge. A recording of the video stream will also be available after the fact, along with the regular podcast.

If you don’t have a webcam or suitable soft phone you can still view the video stream. Blink Mind will be providing a Flash-based streaming feed of the call. Since the stream is post-processed it’s a few second delayed from the bridge, but it includes the audio and video. This is a “view only” feed so you will not be able to participate in the call if this is your only means of connection.

If you are joined to the web stream and the ZipDX bridge we’d asked you to be very careful. The audio will be out of sync between these two bridges and it could become very confused for everyone if you allow the delayed audio into the ZipDX conference.

Of course, we will join the ZipDX wideband audio bridge to the Blink Mind video bridge. A recording of the video stream will also be available after the fact, along with the regular podcast

Watch the VUC mailing list over the coming few days. As more details get locked down things will be announced there.

Update: In an earlier version of this post I referred to Chris Veazey as CTO of Blink Mind, which was in error. In fact we will be joined by three people from Blink Mind:

  • Joe Baird, CEO
  • Nathan Stratton, CTO
  • Chris Veazey, VP Engineering