In 2010, most room HD videoconferencing systems offered by vendors were capable of displaying HD video at 1080p/30fps on dual screens and most HD desktop videoconferencing systems reached 720p video
24 January 2010. Demand for room HD videoconferencing systems experienced better growth in 2010 alongside a booming demand for Telepresence systems discussed here last week. There was also a strong demand for a growing range of HD desktop videoconferencing systems.
There were some large deployments of room HD VC systems in 2010: Aerospace manufacturer (28 system from LifeSize), Bosch and Siemens Hausgerate (128 Polycom), Flamingo Steakhouse (65 Tandberg), Gentworth Finanancial (35 Polycom), Harris Stratex (50 LifeSize), Komatsu Australia (Polycom), Manhattan Associates (25 Polycom), National Geographic (15 LifeSize), and Unifirst (75 Polycom),
We commented last year that Telepresence had become such a buzz word that there was a distinct possibility that the word “videoconferencing” would soon drop from our vocabulary and be replaced by the generic description of this activity as “Telepresence”.
This trend continued in 2010. Many HD videoconferencing systems for rooms and desktop continue to be called “Telepresence” or “Personal Telepresence” simply because they were capable of 1080p Full High Definition video and HD audio. However it is the quality of the experience in using HD videoconferencing that matters and in 2010 that experience improved further, even though the shift to offering up to 1080p Full HD video really took place in 2009.
In 2010, it was no longer good enough for room systems to offer 720p High Definition video as it was in 2007 and 2008. In October 2009, LifeSize Communications, now a Division of Logitech, introduced the LifeSize 220 Series offering 1080p video on dual screens and embedded 1080p HD VC capable MCUs. TANDBERG, now part of Cisco, launched the TANDBERG Profile models with built in 4-site and 8-site MCUs in 2009; these are now leading the range of the less expensive Cisco Telepresence systems. Polycom HDX6000, HDX7000, HDX8000 and HDX9000 were upgraded to 1080p video in 2009; the sales catalogue now distinguishes models with greater clarity by calling them HDX 8000-720 and HDX 8000-1080.
The only “new” HD VC system in 2010 is the RADVISION SCOPIA XT 1000 based on the Aethra Xtreme 300 whose technology and assets for this endpoint RADVISION acquired in early 2010. Vidyo, the most exciting innovator in the industry with its software-only codec and VidyoRouter, continued to call its entire line of products from desktop to room systems with 1080p HD video “Personal Telepresence”. The VidyoRoom 220 was new in 2010.
Other “new” room systems in 2010 include the Avaya range of room systems OEMed for the company by LifeSize and the HP range of HD VC systems using Vidyo’s software HD VC codec. Sony’s HD VC 1080i systems are now offered by CeeLab in Europe and Spire Global in North America.
The main battleground switched to desktop videoconferencing in 2010. While a good number of companies now use some form of room-based video conferencing system, there has been a much slower take up of desktop videoconferencing.
Taking account of new offerings made in 2010, Gartner predicts that more than 200 million workers globally will use corporate-supplied desktop video conferencing by 2015.
For the desktop a dual-purpose computer monitor with a VC codec attached behind is one alternative which avoids running HD VC on the desktop PC. RADVISION’s SCOPIA VC240 and Life Size’s LG Executive are based on displays from Samsung and LG.
The most important event of 2010 was Microsoft announcing on 13 September the release candidate of Microsoft Lync, the next generation of Microsoft’s unified communications software. The Microsoft Lync 2010 platform will include the following software products: Microsoft Lync Server 2010 (Server), Microsoft Lync 2010 (Client), Microsoft Lync Web App (Web Client), and Microsoft Lync Online (Hosted UC Service). Support for 720p High-Definition video with aspect ratio 16:9 and VGA data with aspect ratio 4:3 is available for peer-to-peer calls between users running Lync 2010 on high-end computers.
Other vendors have been keen to work closely with Microsoft, first with its Office Communications Server (OCS) and now with its replacement Microsoft Lync. As Microsoft Lync supports only one to one video chat at 720p, vendors have strained every muscle to enable Microsoft Lync clients to have HD video and multisite connections on their desktop. Early on RADVISION led the way but now Polycom, Tandberg (part of Cisco) and Vidyo, can link a Microsoft Lync client to any of their Telepresence or HD videoconferencing systems. RADVISION, Polycom, Tandberg (part of Cisco) and Vidyo can do the same with IBM Lotus Sametime clients, another huge market.
The expanding ecosystem for Microsoft Lync now includes these partners: Avistar C3 Unified offering HD video up to 720p; LifeSize Communicator; Polycom HDX and RMX products; RADVISION’s SCOPIA UC Gateway for Lync; Tandberg (part of Cisco) Advanced Media Gateway 3600; Vidyo’s VidyoDesktop – offering an H.264SVC-based HD plug-in; ViVu’s VuRoom for Lync, offering low-cost, software-based group chat services.
Industry trends in 2010 and outlook for 2011
First, the fierce battle for the huge potential desktop HD VC market continued in 2010. Some equipment vendors offered solutions that relied on a client-server approach and the main investment was in the MCU infrastructure. Others used a software-only codec and the growing computational power of microprocessors in PCs, laptops and mobile appliances. The winners were those who persuaded companies or organisations to make an enterprise-wide solution of video to the desktop. No company has yet exceeded the plans of Vodafone to eventually deploy video to 25,000 desktops.
The second trend was to support two 1080p video streams and dual screens. This meant that images, film and data like Powerpoint slides could be displayed at WUXGA resolution or at 1080p. For business this was a big advance, facilitated by the lower price of large LCD flat screen TVs.
The third trend was miniaturisation. HD video hardware codecs no longer have to be hidden away in rack under a table. They can be the size of a book, even smaller, and can be laid on top of the table or attached to the back of a monitor.
The fourth trend in 2010 was to anticipate the use of videoconferencing from smart phones and tablets. Busyness quality video (720p HD video) becomes feasible when 3G wireless networks are slowly replaced by 4G networks offering 10 times the bandwidth, and by the building out of Wimax networks with similar bandwidth. Four major vendors (Cisco, RADVISION, Polycom and Vidyo) have created the infrastructure to make this possible in 2010.
The year 2011 will be a year of more intense competition with two more big players (Avaya and HP) battling for both the room systems and desktop markets set to grow perhaps 20% and 40% respectively. The customer should benefit from easy-to-use, very high quality HD VC systems and possibly lower prices.
By mid-2011, there is likely to be a range of smart phones and tablets with a video camera of at least 3.0 Megapixels on the front side of the appliance for videoconferencing. The Avaya Flare tablet (which can sit alongside the working PC) already has one and the Cisco Cius tablet and others will be launched soon.
That will bring new meaning in 2011 to the concept of making videoconferencing available anywhere, at anytime over any network.
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