Significant advancements in video conferencing technology have allowed for greater accessibility and interoperability. As a result, video is becoming more integrated into consumers’ professional and personal lives. This opens significant opportunity in business-to-consumer video which can have a dramatic impact on the way we view and receive healthcare.

Picture yourself sitting in a waiting room with several other patients who all seem to be spreading their contagious ailments through coughing and sneezing. It’s not very appealing, so perhaps you decide to “wait out” your symptoms or Google them for a self-diagnosis. Unfortunately, the internet can easily turn a simple upset stomach into appendicitis and send you rushing to the emergency room in a panic.

Now picture yourself sitting on the couch or even at your desk between meetings and connecting to a doctor, nurse or other medical professional via video. You can list your symptoms, ask questions and receive medical advice without driving to the doctor’s office. The medical professional can then let you know if you most likely have an upset stomach (take some Pepto and if you don’t feel better in a couple of days make an appointment) or appendicitis (go to the emergency room right away).

Advancements in video technology are making this possible; which is not only great for patients but for medical facilities as well. Waiting rooms will be less crowded because patients will only go to the office when a physical visit is required. Post-operational follow ups or other routine visits can also be conducted over video at a central location while rural hospitals can have access to medical specialists creating numerous efficiencies and revolutionizing the healthcare industry!

Check out this quick video from American Telemedicine Association (ATA) that demonstrates the future of telehealth.

 

Video conferencing on mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, is no longer a new concept. Neither are telepresence robots which allows remote participants to not only see, hear and talk; but also move around. However, the latest version of the VGO Telepresence Robot is now equipped with Verizon LTE giving the solution an even wider range.

Previous models could only connect via WiFi and, unfortunately, a WiFi connection isn’t always available. The value of robotic telepresence is the ability to move around and converse with classmates or colleagues freely; not trying to stay within reach of WiFi signal. With Verizon LTE built into the device, VGo users no longer have to worry whether or not they can access the internet.Remote manager can easily check in with teams or troubleshoot issues on the manufacturing line and healthcare organizations can monitor patients and increase expert availability.

Not to mention students, like Lyndon Baty, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend school because of medical conditions now have the opportunity to interact with classmates. The Verizon Foundation supports projects that apply technology to improve education and is delivering VGos to 15 institutions nationwide.

 

As cloud computing and cloud based services continue their meteoric rise to the top of IT strategies everywhere, an interesting convergence of these new technologies with video conferencing is occurring. Over the last few years countless services and organizations have focused on providing computing power in the cloud. Several of these services have achieved notoriety including Amazon’s Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure.

The previous model for hosting computing power was to enable users to “rent” a server in a provider’s data center or to buy shared space on an existing machine. Web hosting and other hosting services used this model for several years. However, with the advent of virtualization (the ability to simulate multiple servers on one server with software) the model is rapidly changing. Hosting providers are now offering users the ability to launch server instances at will and pay only for the time in which that instance is used.

This new model is significant for several reasons. First, it essentially allows an organization to only pay for what they use; as opposed to absorbing the full expense of servers that might not be fully utilized. Second, the ability to quickly scale and add on additional server resources has gone from a multiple day or week process to a simple software setup that can happen in minutes.

This “elastic” server model allows for infinite scalability at a fraction of the cost and resources required. Additionally, many of these cloud computing providers offer a simple web-based interface to easily monitor and manage all of a customer’s server instances.

So what does all of this mean for video conferencing? With the continued shift of video conferencing infrastructure and services from hardware based appliances to software applications that run on standard servers, a whole new world is opening to video.

Previously, when an organization required additional “ports” to bridge large groups of callers, a significant hardware purchase would be required and the device installed into current infrastructure. Now, as more and more software based products become available, it will be as simple as purchasing a software license and simply adding additional cloud computing power. Even better, when these additional licenses are not in use, there will be no need to pay for the additional server power.

In the last few months several products have been announced that will be able to take advantage of this new model of deployment. Polycom announced its RealPresence ® Collaboration Server 800s, Virtual Edition. This software based bridge (or MCU) will be compatible with virtualized platforms and allow organizations to quickly and easily deploy and scale implementations.

Another notable product launch from last year was Vidyo’s VidyoRouter Virtual Edition. Vidyo is an entirely software based video conferencing platform that runs on standard servers. This new virtualized edition allows for deployment on elastic cloud services like those mentioned above.

As the power of the cloud continues to grow and be leveraged in new and exciting ways, video conferencing will benefit and become more agile for both deployment and management. The growth of elastic cloud services and the move to video conferencing to software based platforms is perfectly aligned to create new and exciting offerings for organizations of any size.

As another year comes to an end it’s time to reflect on the previous year and create new goals for the coming year. Video conferencing has become ever present, cloud services are continuing to grow and collaboration technology is becoming even cooler.  Here is a look at some of the top blog posts from 2012. We hope you enjoyed reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them!

Have a wonderful and safe New Year and we’ll see you in 2013!

Top Blog Posts of 2012:

IT Conundrum: Do It Yourself or Embrace the Cloud?
The prevalence of cloud services has sparked a debate among IT professionals about whether to handle all IT components in-house or to outsource components to cloud service providers.

Video Conferencing Adoption – The Time Has Come!
An integrated approach to video conferencing adoption must be implemented because the impact of new technology reaches beyond the equipment and affects the people and the process within an organization.

The Exponential Power of Video Conferencing
Understanding the Collaboration Curve, and how casual interactions among colleagues and business partners spark creativity, can help organizations drive innovation within their organization.

Video Conferencing and Fighting for Freedom
A patriotic (and personal) look at how communication has changed and video conferencing has helped military members stationed overseas stay in touch with friends and family.

Stop Being Such a Video-phobe!
Getting over the hurdle of being afraid or making excuses not to be on video can be challenging; but in the end the advantages of using it far outweigh any negative feelings you may have.

Using Collaboration to Increase Customer Lifetime Value
The more companies converse with customers and the stronger the relationship is; the more apt customers are to provide honest feedback which can help drive innovation.

Telemedicine Reimbursement – The Time is Now!
Health care organizations throughout the world continue to implement telemedicine; however a major challenge has been the lack of parity from insurance organizations.

The Promise of Unified Communications and the Cloud
A look at some of the roadblocks that prevent true ubiquity of UC solutions throughout enterprise organizations and how cloud service can help overcome some of these challenges.

The New Science of Building Great Teams
An interesting take on building effective teams and achieving a high level of cohesion among team members. How we communicate is actually more important than what we communication.

The Essential Role of Human Resources
HR departments can utilize video conferencing solutions in a variety of different ways to increase communication and expedite many of the functions within the department.

The past year has been full of exciting announcements in the video conferencing and visual collaboration industry. The industry is rapidly changing and 2012 was a particularly noteworthy year for video conferencing. The term ubiquity was thrown around more than ever before due to increased access to video solutions . Here are some particularly noteworthy announcements and trends from 2012.

Greater Interoperability
Always a hot topic, interoperability continued to be a major trend in 2012. The Open Visual Communications Consortium (OVCC), of which Polycom was a founding member, continued to expand its membership; and in late 2012, the first services that connect its members’ clouds became available. This was a major step to breaking down barriers between video conferencing and telecom providers.

Video Conferencing in Your Browser
The introduction of HTML5 and WebRTC have made video conferencing widely available by allowing participants to video conference directly from their browser. Participants no longer have to download software and set up different accounts for different platforms. This provides numerous opportunities for business-to-consumer video conferencing. Blue Jeans greatly enhanced its service this year with a browser connection option.

Higher Quality Mobile Video
Mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets, are being equipped with better cameras on the front of the device making high quality video more readily accessible. Users no longer have to sacrifice quality for mobility; as long as they have a solid internet connection, users can have the best of both worlds. Both the iPhone and iPad were updated to include 720p resolution on their front cameras.

Pervasiveness of Cloud Services
Cloud services have become one of the biggest trends in 2012. Cloud services play a major role in business continuity by providing an extra layer of redundancy. Additionally, these services help expand an organization’s network by easily connecting remote employees. The cloud has also been incredibly powerful in expanding interoperability.

Nintendo and Vidyo Partnership
In a revolutionary announcement, Nintendo announced that the Wii U will support point-to-point video conferencing capabilities powered by Vidyo technology. This has the possibility to represent the largest deployment of living room video conferencing systems in history and truly makes video available to the masses.

Polycom
Polycom continued to shift its focus to software and cloud based services. In October, Polycom made a slew of announcements that included new room endpoints, mobile applications, software based infrastructure, and most notability, its CloudAXIS suite. This solution (another browser based option) enables users to video conference with anyone on their social contact list including Facebook, Google Chat, Skype, and more. The user simply drags their contacts into a window, clicks connect and each participant receives a link on whatever service they are logged into.

Cisco
In 2012, Cisco continued to expand its collaboration footprint beyond video conferencing. Key announcements included the expansion of their WebEx offering, as well as, moving its Quad offering (a social collaboration tool) to the WebEx brand. Expect Cisco to unveil a slew of new video offerings in 2013.

This past year has been significant for the world of visual collaboration. As we move to 2013 (provided the world doesn’t end tomorrow), the industry will continue to grow and evolve. Each announcement and service has the potential to bring the true video ubiquity that many have envisioned.