As visual collaboration announcements about new products continue to hit the news it can be somewhat challenging to discern the technical jargon from the user benefit. Nearly all of these announcements refer back to some set of technical terms that may be lauded in the announcement but aren’t fully explained. Below are some key terms and meanings that you might have seen recently.

SVC – Scalable Video Coding:
Up until now most major video conferencing manufacturers have built their solutions around AVC (Advanced Video Coding). Essentially AVC and SVC are formats of compression technology that allow high definition video to be sent across networks in an efficient manner. AVC essentially sends video at a one resolution, one frame rate with one level of quality across a network. The weakness with this approach is when there are network issues; quality suffers because the stream is unable to adapt down to different resolutions or frame rates.

Conversely, SVC sends multiple layers and resolutions, while monitoring the network. When problems arise, SVC can essentially peel back layer by layer, adapting to the network environment. The result is smoother video that provides a superior user experience.

1080p30 vs. 1080p60
720 and 1080 refer to the lines of resolution of a high definition video single. If you own a HDTV at home you are generally watching 720 or 1080 content on your screen, usually at 30 frames per second. Essentially the human eye is interpreting 30 images a second to create the motion of the content on TV. Now video conferencing systems are starting to use 60 frames a second; the result is a more lifelike, fluid motion. As these frame rates go up, along with the resolution, the image becomes closer to reality.

B2B
The “holy grail” of video conferencing has been the ability to easily connect to and communicate with vendors, partners, and suppliers. Many of the roadblocks for this type of communication have been technological; either due to interoperability or network issues. The term B2B in the visual collaboration world refers to this type of cross organization connections.

H.323
Delivering video conferencing signals across networks requires a number of elements to be successful. The H.323 protocol is design to be a standard that video conferencing manufacturers use which allows their systems to speak the same language. H.323 controls the audio and video signals, the bandwidth, and call control (alerting you to incoming calls, providing alerts, etc). Major manufacturers such as Polycom, Cisco, and Lifesize offer H.323 systems that can easily communicate with each other.

SIP
Like H.323, SIP is a protocol design to enable the communication and connection of devices across networks. SIP is an older protocol that was designed more for closed systems that would ultimately connect via gateways to other closed systems. Additionally, it is not as robust for adding new features.

Yesterday Polycom held a press event at NASDAQ to announce a bevy of products and offerings. This event was the culmination of several years of R&D and the announcements signaled Polycom’s strategic direction for the next several years. Specifically, the announcements surrounded room and personal based video conferencing systems, as well as, new software based solutions and cloud offerings. Specific announcements included:

Move to SVC
Polycom is moving to an open source version of SVC (Scalable Video Coding).  What is particular interesting about this is not only is Polycom gaining the feature benefits of SVC (1080p60, bandwidth scalability, etc), they are also offering up their SVC implementation free to the marketplace. Microsoft has already started working this into their next version of Lync (2013).

New Room Systems
The RealPresence Group Series is a new collection of room based video conferencing endpoints designed for the middle market. These solutions feature the new Polycom UX (User Experience) which is a redesigned interface for the systems that is shared across the entire product line. The new interface makes it easier to schedule and use the systems. In addition, these solutions will offer the SVC codec out of the box.

New Desktop Solution
The RealPresence Desktop solution is Polycom’s software based endpoint supporting both Windows and Mac based operating systems. This solution combines the best of Polycom’s m100 software and CMA managed solution into a single client. The application can run independent or as a part of Polycom’s management tools, enabling infinite scalability. In addition, this app has been enabled with the new SVC codec.

Updated Mobile Solution
Polycom’s RealPresence Mobile is being upgraded to version 2.0. This new release (for both Android and iOS Devices) brings several new features including SmartPairing (the ability for the device to control room systems as well as seamlessly transfer video calls from one device to another), as well as, support for SVC, the new interface introduced in the rest of Polycom’s offerings and compatibility with Polycom’s new Access Director software.

RealPresence Access Director
Access Director is Polycom’s new solution for enabling video within and beyond your firewall.
From Polycom: “RealPresence® Access Director™ is a software-based edge server that enables users within and beyond the firewall to securely access video services—whether at home, in the office, or on the go.”

RealPresence Collaboration Servers
Polycom introduced several key enhancements to their MCU (multipoint control unit) product line that enables SVC, 1080p60, and many other options. In addition, the 800s, Virtual Edition is designed to run purely as a software based solution on industry standard X86 processors.  This opens up an entire new world of virtualized delivery options.

RealPresence CloudAXIS Suite
CloudAXIS brings Polycom’s solution for enabling video connectivity between business level solutions and consumer applications such as Skype and Google Video Chat. The solution is built around a web browser that enables participants to join video calls with nothing more than a webcam. CloudAXIS interfaces with Skype and Google “buddy” lists allowing for easy drag and drop call setup. A user can simply grab a Skype friend, a business connection on a standards based video system, and a Google contact, drag them onto the screen and a call is immediately launched. Polycom is offering this solution to their partners who can then offer a cloud based, subscription model to sell to their customers.

Whew! There was a lot announced yesterday and there is a lot more to come. Over the next week few weeks we will focus on the different solutions, the benefits they offer and how they can impact organizations.