Technology Showcase: Videoconferencing Systems
Apr 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney
Long-predicted communications technology fulfills its potential.
DVE technology includes Intelligent Switched Telepresence, which empowers the DVE Telepresence 50 to cut automatically between cameras in a fashion similar to a broadcast production. For a more all-encompassing installation, the company also has a patented DVE Tele-Immersive Room, in which the imaged people can be seen sitting and standing in the physical room. The DVE Tele-Immersive Room even has a stereoscopic 3D visualization option, which can present volumetric 3D objects up to 9ft. wide floating in air. DVE recently formed a strategic alliance with Christie Digital Systems to assist in the integration of Christie's Mirage HD 3D projectors — which are based on 1080p DLP technology — into the DVE systems.
Halo, with the Halo Video Exchange Network (HVEN), is HP's fully managed network of videoconferencing systems using 720p high-definition images on multiple screens. Halo is always available, so users can literally walk in the room and begin speaking, giving credence to HP's slogan: “You're not interacting with technology; you're interacting with people.” Halo is the Cadillac of tele-presence systems, with installations costing up to $500,000 — but it doesn't take many first-class tickets for traveling executives to run up that kind of bill.
Each Halo room includes four plasma-screen monitors and a high-definition 50in. collaboration screen for realtime data sharing. Users can access a high-magnification camera for sharing physical objects on the collaboration screen or plug a laptop into the in-room VGA connection to easily share documents and other information across both Halo locations. Halo's Multipoint functionality features a patent-pending, three-axis-control operation camera system, which automatically adjusts to provide superior eye contact. HP also provides a Halo Concierge, who is available around the clock to answer questions and help make connections between companies.
Released last October, LifeSize Express is the newest videoconferencing model from LifeSize Communications, featuring 720p/30 images for inexpensive face-to-face collaboration. For multiuser meetings, LifeSize Conference is LifeSize's telepresence system. It uses multiple displays and up to three HD PTZ cameras, and it integrates a wireless touchscreen control panel. It also offers embedded voice-activated switching and external audio, video, and data inputs and outputs. It is also standards-compliant, allowing the system to interoperate with nearly any videoconferencing system. The optional LifeSize SDI Adapter can extend the benefits of third-party HD videoconferencing cameras to the LifeSize Room.
The Polycom TPX HD Suite is interoperable with standards-based videoconferencing components and 60in. plasma screens to provide lifesize images of all remote participants. Referred to as a telepresence environment, the TPX HD Suite is a freestanding design with independent videowall and conference table. It can even be completely disassembled and moved to a new location. Managed Services provide all the interaction required, which increases the suite's usability even for novice users of video-conferencing technology.
A key component is the HDX 9000 integrator's codec, providing 720p/30 images connected to multiple HD-video sources. By the end of 2008, this should be upgraded to 1080p/30 quality. The Video Media Center (VMC) 1000 operates in tandem with the company's Recording and Streaming Server (RSS) 2000 to link videoconferencing with video streaming. Audio is handled by the company's SoundStructure C-series mixing system, which can have up to 16×16 inputs and outputs, and it boasts both monaural and stereo echo cancellation from 20Hz to 22kHz.
At the upcoming InfoComm show in June, Sony will be bringing out what it claims is the industry's first 1080i high-definition videoconferencing system — the PCS-XG80. In the mind of broadcast veteran Sony, this is real HD because the images run at 60 fields per second. However, the backward compatibility of the PCS-XG80 will give users the option of connecting with HD-video quality through the growing number of high-bandwidth networks or through standard-definition legacy systems by complying with industry standards over IP and/or ISDN. Because it features six-site, multipoint conferencing, users of the PCS-XG80 will be able to call up to five other remote sites to simultaneously meet — and with multi-language support for up to 20 languages. From PowerPoint and animations to live DVD playback, users can also seamlessly share PC data in HD at 30fps. Dual-stream functionality lets users send two separate parallel streams of live HD information.
As the leader in providing both videoconferencing endpoints and infrastructure, Tandberg has experienced an enviable 33.5 percent annualized revenue growth for the past 10 years. In 2006, Tandberg was the first to introduce a high-definition desktop system: the Centric 1700. Today, the company's Experia system offers a standards-based, across-the-table telepresence experience with single-touch controls and flexible installation options. With quad 50in. plasma screens, Tandberg's precision HD cameras (720p/30) and directional, CD-quality spatial audio combine to provide a highly interactive forum for collaboration. The Experia system is an adaptive tele-presence approach that lets you join up to four sites for multipoint telepresence calls, with a dedicated collaboration monitor that allows participants to share PC presentations, DVDs, documents, and other peripheral devices. Experia also offers a high level of security with AES encryption and authentication.
The whole family of VirtuaLive HD videoconferencing systems from Teliris is the first telepresence system in the world to be certified by The CarbonNeutral Company, for those interested in quantifying the amount of carbon emissions videoconferencing can save by eliminating executive travel. Teliris' VirtuaLive HD Unified system, using 720p/60 high-definition video, provides an environment in which every conference room matches so that the video side of the far table looks exactly like the in-person side of the local table.
Last month, the company also launched its new VirtuaLive HD 360 system, which integrates the Teliris broadcast-quality telepresence offerings with a long list of collaboration tools — including whiteboarding, media editing, and product evaluation. The Teleris system delivers more than four simultaneous locations with its VirtualVectoring and VirtualDimensioning capabilities, which ensure the maximum level of eye contact between all videoconferencing participants. Because of local telecommunications cost issues, Teliris offers all of its products in SD format, which enables the implementation of VirtuaLive systems anywhere in the world.
Yamaha admits to being new to the videoconferencing game, having introduced its first stateside system at last year's InfoComm. But starting with a blank slate has given the company a different slant on the idea of multicamera videoconferencing, and its background in audio has induced the company to emphasize sound communication. That's why Yamaha's unique ProjectPhone PJP-300V videoconferencing system has 16 arrayed microphones, each with automatic gain control geared for a 23ft. voice-pickup range. No mics are on the conference table; instead, the mics and the three 300-kilopixel CMOS cameras are all mounted in a sleek horizontal bar unit that can sit conveniently on top of a flatpanel display. The mics automatically track the person speaking and aim the proper camera at the source of his/her voice. It's not exactly tele-presence, but Yamaha feels this fast-cut video approach delivers a TV-studio-like experience for the viewers. The PJP-300V can also be used as a standalone webconferencing systems by connecting it to a PC.
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