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May 5th, 2011

At the beginning of the modern tech boom (we’ll use 1980 as Year Zero), videoconferencing was one of the great “new things” to arrive with home computers, mobile phones and compact discs. Still thinking “bigger is better,” many tech firms conceived their videoconferencing systems as office-size setups with corporate trappings and costs.

Using ISDN (Integrated Serviced Digital Network) proved to be restrictive, hence the move away from it to the Internet Protocol (IP), through which every device from smart phones to CRE”s iMac rentals now connect. There are still companies that operate their own high-end, high-speed backbones for corporate-level, big-screen videoconferencing, International Video Conferencing and Glowpoint being two of the premier examples.

Videoconferencing evolution

Component technologies evolved through the 1980s and 1990s. Conferences with multiple participants required the development of a multipoint control unit (MCU) to mix and route audio and video. These setups, with multiple monitors and speakers, created the first “immersive environments.” Meanwhile, tech advances continued speeding things up, stabilizing images and improving A/V quality. With today’s incredible LCD monitors, these immersive environments are astonishingly realistic.

In 2000, several firms were building video PBX consoles (like phone PBXs except that calls have both video and audio material). To allot and adjust bandwidth, monitor service quality, track calls for billing purposes and administer other features, other video network tools were being created. And then, kaboom – the end of the dot-com boom! Through 2001 and 2002 start-ups folded, big companies downsized and the forces of ”creative destruction” unleashed a decade of new progress.

Critical mass for videocalls?

One big difference between 2001 and 2011 is that technologies are not “corporate size” now, but “people size.” It is no longer about connecting “things” or “places” – it’s about connecting and empowering individuals, wherever they are and whatever devices they’re using. This means connecting video walls with desktop computers, smart phones, iPad rentals, laptops – and everything else that connects to the Internet.

For about 30 years now, pundits have predicted that an “explosion” of videoconferencing has been “right around the corner.” We may now have a critical mass of interconnected things to accelerate the next phase. Apple now has FaceTime running on both Mac OS X and iOS 4 devices, Skype has been stable for a couple of years, Sightspeed is a popular Web-based service and a company named Ojo Vision has a new videophone that combines video imaging and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) – and all the supporting components (lenses, cameras, routers, etc.) are getting better all the time.

Who you gonna call?

At CRE, we stay abreast of technology advances that will help you and your company right now, as well as tomorrow. In addition to state-of-the-art post production and audio/video know-how, our Account Executives have broad experience in networking, computer operations and event production services. A call or e-mail will you started, or you can order what you need with the Quick Rental Quote form.

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