Video Conferencing from Anywhere
Mobile device support for video conferencing is clearly in its infancy, but all of the vendors are going to continue to invest heavily in mobile capabilities because their customers are demanding it.
Happy New Year! After taking some time off for the holidays, it is time to start thinking about all the amazing things that will happen on mobile devices in 2012!
In our last post, we provided an overview of the considerations that Enterprises face when looking at rolling out video to mobile devices. This included the ability to both "create" and to "consume" video on the mobile devices.
In this post, we will focus on the "create" part of mobile video. To do so, we will focus on video conferencing providers' support for mobile video. A bit later, we will investigate what Cisco, Polycom, and LifeSize have in terms of video conferencing support on mobile devices. But first, let's consider how these new capabilities will be used and what the "experience" will be.
The concept of video conferencing on mobile devices is fantastic, even futuristic. The ability to participate in a video conference from anywhere is, quite simply, amazing. Unfortunately, there are some practical considerations that organizations need to know before they jump into mobile video conferencing with both feet.
1. As I mentioned in the previous post, know what you are trying to accomplish. Do not rush into mobile device support just because the capability is there. Make sure it adds value to your organization. Understand the applications that people are requesting, and make sure you deliver those well.
2. To truly get the benefits of mobile video conferencing, you will either need to expand your current video infrastructure or deploy new infrastructure if you do not already have it. Or you can use one of the new cloud based infrastructure services that the providers are starting to offer (this will be the subject of a future blog post). The biggest reason for this is for security--if users are going to be able to call from anywhere, you need to make sure the solution includes firewall traversal and encryption so that your calls are secured.
3. The third thing to consider is: How are your users actually going to use the technology? Is it mostly going to be one-to-one calls for short durations? Or are they going to be participating in larger conferences with longer durations?
Why does this matter? Again, it is the user experience. As most people know, the video conference providers have gone to great lengths to make sure the video conference and telepresence experience is optimal. In "immersive" experiences, they even go so far as to build the entire room so that it feels like you are in the same room when you call someone on an identical system. Even for non "immersive" systems, good lighting, good sound, a proper distance from the camera, and finally high definition quality are usually implemented by the provider in order to ensure the best experience.
Mobile video conferencing, on the other hand, is the complete opposite! Remember, these are devices that cost hundreds of dollars, as opposed to immersive telepresence rooms that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And, the way that the mobile devices are used all point to lower quality experiences.
* The user can be anywhere--their office, the airport, or the coffee shop
* Lighting is typically awful. Specifically, the angle of the mobile device tends to get focused on overhead lighting. Or on a window behind the user.
* The sound is typically awful. There is a lot of noise in public spaces. And the microphones in mobile devices are not nearly as good as in professional video conference systems.
* The user is typically too close to the device.