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”.