Software video specialist Vidyo has unveiled its first telepresence software video product, VidyoRoom Soft Edition. The telepresence software is also the industry's the first room-based video offering on the market capable of rendering content and video in Ultra HD, or 4K.
VidyoRoom Soft Edition (SE), a departure from Vidyo's typical desktop video-conferencing software, is a low-cost telepresence option that can run on standards-based commodity hardware.
"Software-enabled rooms are opening up new opportunities in video conferencing," said Roopam Jain, industry director of unified communications and collaboration for Mountain View, California-based Frost and Sullivan Inc. "Users can have the flexibility to video-enable any meeting space, including conference rooms and huddle rooms, at a fraction of the cost and with the ease of a plug-and-play setup."
VidyoRoom telepresence software better than HD resolution
Many businesses have ruled out telepresence as too expensive and extravagant, but the proliferation of software and cloud-based video options are starting to change the game. Many enterprises are installing cheaper, easy-to-deploy video offerings that haven't been designed with a conference room environment in mind. "While you can put other desktop video software or cloud-based video offerings -- like Skype -- in a conference room on a laptop, the experience isn't optimized for a telepresence experience," said David Maldow, analyst and associate publisher at Telepresence Options.
VidyoRoom SE is a telepresence software application that installs on any general-purpose computer that an enterprise may already have in their conference room, such as the Intel NUC mini PC. The new software comes with a user interface for remote control operation for the in-room camera, known as far-end camera control; calendar integration for click-to-join functionality; and automatic rendering of shared content on a second screen, the company said. The new software can also be installed as an application on any Open Compute platform.
As the first 4K-capable telepresence offering on the market, VidyoRoom SE's 4K resolution can render for 4x 1080p -- often described as being 4 times better than HD video -- or 9x 720p video on a single display, without borders or the video needing to be divided into multiple tiles. 4K display screens are already on the market, but aren't in great demand yet. As the price for 4K displays drops, however, there will be a growing demand for even higher and better resolution for video conferencing, Frost and Sullivan's Jain said, especially within markets like healthcare, fashion, and manufacturing and engineering.
Despite the extra clarity for detail-oriented verticals, "bandwidth availability and impact on networks will determine real-world deployments," she said. "We are a ways from everything running on Ultra HD."
But the race for greater resolution is on, Vidyo's Noble said. "We are seeing a proliferation of consumer devices that support resolution greater than HD. We have to keep pace with the advances in consumer devices because [those are] the experiences [users] want to have with real-time video at work," he said.
VidyoRoom's 4K capabilities can work in enterprise environments that may not have 4K-enabled displays, Noble said. If a conference participant wants to share content using their consumer device that supports Ultra HD, the content can be encoded, transmitted and rendered in native resolution. "You won't lose any resolution when you downscale [the content] to fit a 1080p display. With 4K resolution, you'll still have a crisp image on the other side," he said.
Vidyo is also offering 4K as a free upgrade for VidyoRoom HD-‐230 and VidyoPanorama 600 systems for customers on a current maintenance and support plan, the company said.
Telepresence software puts room-based video within reach for more businesses
For years, Vidyo has specialized in business-class, software-based desktop video options, but the piece missing from its portfolio was the room-based meeting option, Maldow said. "This telepresence offering served up as a software-only [option that] enables customers to leverage the supply chain they already have in place to create a room system," Vidyo's Noble said. "It's a software application they can load onto the same platform they are already using for other purposes, so it's really changing the price point, too," he said.
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Conference rooms that were not previously video-enabled can now become a conferencing spot more easily and cheaply because Vidyo doesn't rely on hardware peripherals -- like high-end cameras and audio equipment -- as much as competitor telepresence offerings, Noble said. "Even if a business doesn't have any [legacy] room-based video systems, they can walk in a room with their own laptop instead of using a dedicated machine in the room … and share the video conference experience with others," he said.
Because the offering is software-based, businesses in international markets also have more control over costs, Frost and Sullivan's Jain said. Customers can buy VidyoRoom SE andsource off-the-shelf hardware locally to build a complete room system, while avoiding additional costs resulting from heavily taxed imported technology hardware, she said.