This article, based upon a SlideShare document with a few additions, is a bit on the thin side. The author starts with the ultra-simple idea that a user with a laptop can select an internal or external webcam as the video source. This is a great point, and well worth noting since an internal webcam tends to be quite lame. A good quality, external webcam can provide much better quality video. My current favorite is the Logitech C920.
He then makes a great leap to using an external video switcher to allow live switching between multiple video sources. While both are valid options, what he describes represents a rather dramatic leap from $0 to thousands-of-dollars.
There is in fact a middle option, which is the approach that we’ve be using for the VoIP Users Conference. You can use a software-based production tool to handle a variety of video sources right within your computer. There are a few different programs that fit this role. Some are inexpensive, or even free. More professional tools of this sort may cost a few hundred dollars.
In 2013 Dr. Schulzrinne was inducted into the Internet Hall Of Fame. The following clip is his acceptance speech from that ceremony. I offer it in the hope that it will help inspire some good questions.
The technical part of this weeks exercise will involve the use of Jitsi Video Bridge (http://jitsi.org) to host the call instead of our usual G+ Hangout. Thus we’ll be taking a pure, open source, WebRTC approach to things. Given a limited number of seats on the Jitsi video bridge they are by invitation only.
To allow more people to watch the call the Jitsi Video Bridge feed will be live streamed to our YouTube channel*. http://youtu.be/-pfXBE2POxo
Jitsi Video Bridge has a newly implemented ability to dial out to a SIP URI. This is how we’ll be interconnecting with ZipDX. Since both JVB and ZipDX support the Opus codec that will be a good quality connection.
Interactive, if audio-only, participation in the call will be possible by connecting to ZipDX via SIP URI (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The prior two installments in this series dealt with interconnecting an audio conference bridge and a Google+ Hangout-On-Air. The Hangout-On-Air allows a limited number of interactive participants with no connectivity to the PSTN. The audio conference allows audio-only participants, including both access via the PSTN and direct SIP connections. The combination allows more people to participate, which is ideal. The fact that it supports HDVoice is also great.
Nice as that solution is, it hasn’t addressed another facet of how we’ve been doing VUC calls. I’ve been struggling with an arrangement for adding production audio to the call along with my own participation. By “production audio” I mean things like a pre-recorded opening or closing, or anything else that might enhance the presentation.
The P710e is a USB connected desktop speakerphone like many others before it. In addition to USB connectivity it sports a Bluetooth radio, allowing it to be paired to up to 8 different devices. It can act as a stand for a cell phone or tablet, so you can enjoy high-quality hands-free audio for video calls without your arm going numb or giving your partner shaky-cam inspired motion sickness.
I have had one of these devices for the past couple of months and found it very useful. So much so that I’m working on a full-length review, although that’s still likely a week or two down the road.
– Michael “End Point” Graves
P.S. – If you’re the sort who likes to be prepared you can check out my past experiences with portable speakerphones here:
That summer someone at Polycom introduced me to David Frankel, CEO of ZipDX, quite likely the very first commercial HDVoice conference service. It was only natural that I would invite David to a guest appearance on a VoIP Users Conference call to talk about HDVoice.
David’s initial appearance on a VUC call was on November 7th, 2008. That first experience went so well that from January 23rd, 2009 ZipDX became the sole conference bridge used to host VUC calls.
In May 2009 I attended the first of Jeff Pulver’s HDVoice Summits in NYC. At that summit it was noted that the weekly VUC calls were likely the single most accessible public example of HDVoice in-use.
While it’s true that I live in Texas where football is elevated in status beyond almost everything else, in this case the “huddle” is not about football. Vaddio is a manufacturer of audio & video conference hardware based in Minnetonka, MN. Best known for their range of PTZ cameras, they have a diverse product offering that addresses media applications from broadcast to places of worship and corporate meeting spaces.
This coming Friday, January 17th, Vaddio will be joining the VUC to introduce us to their new Huddlestation. The Huddlestation is a new product that aims to address the needs of smaller meeting rooms for video conference capability, while also tapping into the BYOD trend. It’s essentially a USB-attached camera+sound bar+microphone module for use with a HDTV. You may recall that I have mentioned it once before.