We have all heard about different conferencing possibilities that are out there to enhance business and educational communication. However, some inquiries still arise when we are confronted with what services best fit our needs and the demands of those around us. Teleconferencing, for instance, contrary to videoconferencing which implies the use of video, is undergone only with audio support. Tele conferencing (also referred to as audio conferencing and conference calling) is carried out over regular telephone lines and can be conducted rather inexpensively.
When choosing a service, there are two main alternatives, reservationless or operator-assisted. The first comes into view as the most economical and user friendly as a telephone number and pin code are the only needed requirements to get you started. What’s more, it abolishes any possible human error consequence of operator assisted services. Greater flexibility is offered as it is permanently available and once you have adhered to the service, you only need to worry about setting a time and date with your participants to perform a meeting.
Operator assisted teleconferencing, on the other hand, is recommended for meetings with larger number participants and can avoid potential problems that come up as a
result. An operator is available to carry out certain tasks such as checking out or adding participants, splitting larger groups into smaller clusters, as well as perform a variety of other services. Organizing an operated assisted conference, however, implies calling an operator a day in advance.
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In an ever changing society, some things never cease to be important. A company’s image, for instance, is crucial in determining its success. As businesses resort to videoconferencing as an important tool of communication, facility conditions come up as crucial and decisive in undergoing a conference effectively.
Nowadays, videoconferencing not only allows for people in different locations to meet despite the geographical distance, it also grants them tools to actually undergo certain tasks in the process. The videoconferencing facilities may, therefore, need to have the conditions to house a wide range of equipment (white boards, host PC´s, cameras, scanners, slide video converters, etc.) enhancing videoconferencing possibilities.
Although adequate equipment is important in holding a successful videoconference, the room itself will greatly determin
e the equipments´ performance. The room acoustics, if favourable, can minimize if not eliminate, echo and feedback difficulties. Square rooms are unadvised as they normally offer poor acoustics.
Of the audio system apparatuses, the microphones must be adequately placed not only regarding the room design but also the positioning of the speakers as to allow clear communication to take place. On the other hand, the room must have adequate light sources as too much natural light may obscure the visualization of the video display.
In a videoconferencing context we may loose notion of the always important eye contact factor. The positioning of the camera should allow speakers to focus on it and that there be nothing obscuring them from being viewed on the camera as well.
Guaranteeing the successful usage of videoconferencing will also depend on the familiarity of those involved with the whole process. As a result equipment and room conditions should be checked beforehand.
As personal contact ceases to exist, all details must be thought as to ensure that business runs smoothly!
Apple has just filed a patent on a two-way LCD that can both display and capture video and images simultaneously. The technology uses special receptors embeded in the liqud crystal display screen. Obviously this has tremendous applications for videoconferencing, where you can actually look into the eyes of someone you’re speaking with, and they will be looking right at you, since the display and the camera are the same unit.
The technolgy could be used in video displays, as well as cell phones and PDA’s.
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When the average citizen is asked to indicate aspects of life they are most concerned with, health will inevitably come up at the top of the list. Having access to proper health care is an issue that governments constantly battle with. New technologies are sought to respond to the needs of both practitioners and patients. Videoconferencing has, therefore, gained strength in the medical field as a mean to respond to some of the present medical challenges.
The practice of medicine using interactive video has enormous benefits, many of which are still to be exploited. Teleconferencing allows consultations and other medical services to take place without the need for doctor and patient to be in the same physical space. Health care has, therefore, become more accessible to patients living in more remote locations, who otherwise would not have the means to commute to a local hospital or health care centre. Patients are followed more closely as financial and travel constraints no longer are a concern. Patients see their hospitalization time reduced as well, as doctors can follow up on their condition through videoconferencing. Such a situation benefits health care organizations as patient expenses are reduced, as well as the actual patient who can continue treatment from the comfort of their home.
On an educational level, Video Conferencing has become an important tool which can offer medical staff ongoing training. On the other hand, videoconferencing puts doctors in contact, regardless of where they are thus granting them greater confidence in patient diagnosis as they are in easy reach of a second opinion. What’s more, doctors have easy access to patient information which can accelerate and assist patient analysis.
As the medical world exploits telemedicine for its obvious benefits, its contribution to saving lives arises as the greatest of them all.
Video conferencing has become a somewhat common tool used in business and education to put people in contact. It surfaces as a solution to that so often quoted expression “Time is money!” As we battle with not having enough of it, new technologies are currently at the service of society allowing us to undergo everyday tasks including business and education from our own homes abolishing time and travel constraints. Nowadays videoconferencing can, therefore, take place in a conference room at a major enterprise or simply from a PC to another, known as desk-top videoconferencing, from the comfort of one’s home.
You are probably wondering how big an investment must be made to integrate a videoconferencing system on a home computer. You will be pleasantly surprised in knowing that the additional software needed is minimal (usually a video board, camera, speakers, microphone or a headset and telephone attached) and costs virtually insignificant. What concerns hardware, most videoconferencing services run on computers which, if relatively new, already comprise the needed requirements.
When considering desktop video conferencing, your internet connection will greatly influence communication. It is therefore, important to check, and if necessary, upgrade internet speed as well as ensure that the internet service provider offers the needed services.
Once all elements are properly installed, at the touch of a button a world of audio, video and data sharing are at the user’s reach. Not only can the participants be seen and heard, but also exchange information.
Conferencing through a desktop computer can therefore, facilitate communication as costs are reduced and productivity increased. Having the flexibility to work from home or in any given location has contributed to keeping those involved in the process, motivated and enthused with the possibilities at hand. Communication and how it is defined has come a long way and it won’t be long before PC conferencing has become vulgar.
Apparently Microsoft is looking at ways to improve PC to PC videoconferencing. The following was posted on March 10, 2006 on Time.com.
TIME:What other innovations are coming from your research group?
Gates: Videoconferencing is another good example. There’s more of it going on today than in the past. But it’s still not really mainstream. Even with cameras being very cheap, one thing that researchers noticed was that you look really bad in a videoconference image, because the lighting is bad and you get shadows and things. So they’re showing this software that makes you look good, that understands about shadows and bags under your eyes and highlighting the twinkle in your eye and it’s very realistic. It’s what a great makeup artist would do, but the software is doing that with this face recognition and transformation. And so it’s things like that that will take something like videoconferencing and you’ll start to use it more and you’ll start to think of it and you won’t really realize that a fairly key element was a little bit of magic software.
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As Voice over IP becomes part of the everyday workplace, other benefits of this technology are also being discovered. For example, businesses are discovering unique ways to save money with VOIP technology, including savings related to adding/moving a telephone for a worker, and lower long-distance costs. At newer facilities, IT personnel can also run fewer cables to workstations (sometimes just one instead of two or more) also reducing costs.With one cable to a workstation instead of several, installation costs can drop by almost half.
Also, since VOIP customers have this technology available, they are seeing reductions in the cost of teleconferencing and videoconferencing. Traditional teleconferencing can cost six to twelve times as much as VOIP teleconferencing. Other savings are being seen for videoconferencing, which can run $200 to $300 per hour for traditional videoconferencing sessions.
However, the transition to VOIP isn’t all roses… voice-over-IP projects take more than twice the time for planning, installation and training than originally expected, according to recent research. However, once implemented, the benefits are significant, and well worth the difficulties associated with implementation.
Since these technologies are so new, it will be awhile before actual data-driven research can point definitively to the amount of savings that convergence and VOIP technologies will provide. However, those leading change are quick to point out that these technologies “improve worker productivity with unified communications and mobility integration”.
Imagine being able to go to your local health clinic (no matter how remote your community) and being able to consult with the most experienced specialists in virtually any medical field. This is one of the opportunties that telemedicine can bring to all of us.
Telemedicine can empower local communities by improving access to quality medical care. Travel times and waiting will be reduced, and eventually advanced robotics could even provide a means for surgeons to operate via long distances. Believe it or not, these technologies are already being used.
The following is from the Orlando Sentinel:
“Telemedicine is widely used already, with doctors consulting each other from thousands of miles apart, even examining patients through video. Advances in robotics also will make it possible someday for doctors to operate on patients in remote settings.”
The future for telemedicine is bright, indeed.
Technological development has inevitably changed the way we envision the world surrounding us. This reality has, therefore, expanded its realm of influence to the educational field. Traditional teaching, constrained to the physical boundaries of a classroom, has lost the ability to respond to the needs of a new generation of learners. Innovative teaching methods supported b
y technology have surged, in which time and place no longer confine learning from taking place.
Video Conferencing is one of the means used to provide both educational staff and learners with innovative, more exciting educational opportunities. In a simplistic perspective, it permits communication to take place with the aid of video cameras, microphones and video monitors. In a broader viewpoint however it puts people, independent of their geographical location, in contact. Videoconferencing allows, in real time, for a student in the United States, for instance, to communicate with other learners or tutor, for that matter, in any part of the world thus enlightening their educational experience. On the other hand, teachers and other educational staff are granted new resources which facilitate teaching and make it a more enjoyable process altogether.
Video Conferencing has responded to the needs of a non traditional student population as well. Currently, students with geographical, financial, time constraints are granted educational possibilities anyhow, a reality somewhat impossible a few years back. Students with physical disabilities, who cannot commute to a school, for example, are granted the same educational possibilities through videoconferencing. What’s more, it puts both institutions, in general and teachers in particular, in contact thus creating opportunities for them to share professional and personal experiences. What’s more, videoconferencing has allowed institutions stricken by financial difficulties to grant their students with quality education in any case, as they can visit a museum or zoo without leaving the comfort of their classroom.
Video Conferencing and all its potential has only given its first steps and its full potential yet to be explored.