Working in the visual communication industry for a bit over a decade, the usual question keeps popping: why do I feel that NOW is THE time for visual communications?
In other words, why is today different than the past?
A (very) early demo of our new BEEHD solution. (more details here)
It all boils down to the list of barriers to video calling that I have listed here in the past:
- Processing power
- Packet loss
- Walled gardens
- Human factors
While these have been real barriers for a long time, they are becoming less of an issue these days. Here’s why:
Voice and Video Quality
- Bandwidth – we have more of it, and it keeps growing with time. The Koreans even have plans for 1Gbps networks in the next few years. As bandwidth goes up, the so does video quality.
- Processing power – we have more of it, and faster CPUs are now sold for lower prices. Our latest announcement with TI just shows how processing power has progressed: you can now purchase a relatively inexpensive SoC that can do HD video processing.
- Latency & packet loss – we have less of these, as networks are getting better not only in bandwidth, but also in terms of the latencies and packet loss rates they introduce. At the same time, new algorithms allow better handling of exactly these issues.
- Firewalls - while firewalls still cause headaches to video telephony, there are ways to overcome these. Sagee at VideoOverEnterprise explained how we traverse firewalls with our SCOPIA Desktop.
- Walled Gardens – this is by far the worst of the problems. It is the reason why video never made it outside large organizations. With introduction of firewall traversal solutions, along with service providers that offer hosted video telephony services, these walled gardens are now starting to open up.
- Complexity - video products used to be complex. This is definitely changing. You can now go to Vidtel, purchase their videophone with a service attached to it, plug your phone to the network and that’s it. You can read what leading bloggers thought of Vidtel’s offering and the experience they provide. On the backend, the use of hosted services such as those can simplify things for both enterprises and consumers.
- Cost – we used to say that it costs less to do a video call than it is to travel. Well, it is, but it was never a good enough reason to do a video call. The current recession can definitely help video thrive, but again – it is not a real reason. The cost of video conferencing endpoints is going down – and we’re helping this trend with our software running on TI’s new SoC, letting any manufacturer build his own videophone easily and cost-effectively.
And it’s not just the cost factor – it’s the quality factor as well. Now that we have high definition available, and at a reasonable price, there is really no need for a lot of the flights we used to take.
- People Don’t Like to be Seen – already changing. We are exposing ourselves more and more these days, uploading our photos to Facebook or Flickr, uploading videos to YouTube. We are blogging and micro-blogging, sharing our lives, exposing our souls. As we are quite ok today with sharing ourselves with others over the internet, visual communication is simply the next step – and it is one we do with people we know or want to know anyway. Once the service is easy to use, and the quality is great – people will use it.
- No real need – there will always be people who will want to continue to “keep it simple”, who will argue “why change it if it (barely) works?”. If that is the case, then why pitch for HD voice at all? Isn’t our current PSTN system good enough? Or should we go back to using Morse code?! If you build it – they will come.