- Microsoft’s $8.5 billion gamble on Skype this year,
- the mystique enshrouding Google+ Hangouts,
- the popularity of Apple’s Facetime app,
- the drastic price cut in Cisco WebEx’s base service,
- the launch of Blue Jeans Network which allows different video conferencing endpoints to connect to each other,
- Tango’s foray into bringing mobile video calls between iPhone and Android
The video conferencing industry has also gotten a big push from a tight economy, rising gas prices, and a fear of foreign oil dependency, which have been pushing companies to find creative ways to shrink their budgets while maintaining high quality operations.
Video Technology Barriers – And The Walls Came Tumbling Down
The real change, however, comes from the maturation of technology, according to industry experts Thomas Wiegand and Gary J. Sullivan, who lead the development of the H.264/AVC video coding standard and currently co-chair the International Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T). They note that the majority of barriers that have prevented the growth of everyday videoconferencing have finally been swept away:
The days of expensive specialized equipment and dedicated video bandwidth are over. All you need for videoconferencing these days is consumer grade Internet, web camera, a microphone, a monitor, and speakers, with which many laptops and mobile phones come already equipped.
The advent of 3G/4G wireless and satellite broadband, and ever faster broadband services has virtually connected the entire world from the remotest parts of the Amazon forest to the most connected high rise in Singapore.
The development of better ways to compress information has made it possible to exchange the vast amounts of data captured for real time audio and video.
Experts often claim that the only thing left standing in the way of ubiquitious video interaction is standardization, and that, Wiegand and Sullivan believe, is also on its last legs.
It’s All In The Design
We are only the beginning of what is possible with interactive video. From my observations, the user experience for currently available products tend to be pretty horrible. But, the great news is that now that the basic technology barriers are behind us, we can focus on the thing that really matters – the design of an amazing user experience!
Where do you think the field of video telephony is heading?