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Video Calling: My Own Motivation

Video calling has been around for a long, long time. However, it’s yet to become commonplace. There have been studies, some very recent, that suggest that people really don’t want or need it. Yet Skype reports that a substantial amount, around 40% if I recall correctly, of their call traffic involves video. Of course, events like last years volcanic excitement in Iceland highlight how valuable video can be when travel is impossible.

Beyond the more general cases I have my own reasons why video could play an important part in my working life. It happens that I travel a lot in the course of my work. The scope of my working duties is divided three ways; pre-sales demonstrations of hardware/software systems, post-sales commissioning, installations & training, and finally end-user support activity. The demonstration aspect of my travel could be reduced significantly if I were able to deliver the demonstration via online means.

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The VoIP Users Conference Featuring LifeSize

Following our first video conference call with Blink Mind last August we’re at long last scheduled to do next call in the series. The VUC call on February 4, 2011 will feature LifeSize, the Austin TX based manufacturer of HD video conference systems. LifeSize is a division of Logitech.

Our guest will be Michael Helmbrecht, Vice President of Product Marketing. His responsibilities include product marketing, product life cycle management, public relations and analyst relations. Prior to LifeSize he spent nine years with Dell, Inc. where he was Director of Marketing. Michael held a number of key marketing roles at Dell, most recently leading product line management for data storage and networking in the Americas.

Unlike the earlier video call in August, the Feb 4 call will happen in 720p-based high-definition. A total of sixteen fortunate souls will have seats on the LifeSize video conference bridge.

The output of that bridge will also be streamed via a web feed, and recorded for later download as a video podcast. Audio from the LifeSize conference bridge will be joined to the ZipDX bridge so that people participating audio-only can join the call by their usual means.

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My First Telepresence Experience…kinda

The paradox of my demo this past week was funny, and kind of sad. It was a presentation to a sports network in LA. I was in an uplink facility in Atlanta with some HD graphics gear and a couple of people from the network. The rest of the audience was the creative team in LA. They took the 1080i HD output of my device and a camera (also 1080) pointed at me, running both over a fiber link to the group in LA.

The theory was simple enough; the group in LA had some specific concerns. I could demonstrate conclusively our approach to their issues. They see me operating the equipment as well as the output in real-time, in glorious full-resolution HD. The fact that the uplink facility was involved made the fiber link available. This was a first in my long history in this business.

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Telepresence In The Home: Who’s On First?

Cisco today introduced umi, it’s effort to bring telepresence from the board room into the living rooms of the world. Umi (pronounced like “you me”) attaches to an existing HDTV via an HDMI connection and is said to support HD video calling.

Depending upon your available bandwidth umi can provide 720p or 1080i video streams. They quote 720p as requiring 1.5 mbps in each direction, while 1080 requires 3.5 mbps. Those numbers suggest the umi is not supporting the H.264 High Profile compression profile that Polycom has used on their systems. H.264 High Profile makes more efficient use of bandwidth, according to Polycom it’s bandwidth requirements are as little as half that of competitive systems.

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