Video conferencing technology is in the midst of a boom, with end users in a wide range of verticals clamoring to add the capabilities to their business. In industries that range from retail and finance to healthcare, education and the corporate world, organizations are realizing the benefits that seamless, remote communication can offer.
However, many value-added resellers (VARs) are entirely new to video conferencing. For those who are unfamiliar with the technology, rest assured that it is fairly easy to learn the basics. As an introduction for the uninitiated, here is a brief primer on how video conferencing works:
1. Two (or more) people communicate through audio and video.
In its simplest form, a video conference includes two people who communicate to each other remotely via the following:
- A computer with a webcam and speakers (or a telephone)
- An internet connection
Of course, today’s video conferences can now include tens or even hundreds of people—although that might get a bit confusing. On all video conferences, behind the scenes, software and web page and internet communication tools enable streaming audio and video, instant messaging, Java scripts and more.
As video conferencing continues to evolve and grow, it has moved beyond the desktop computer. Today’s end users might also communicate via mobile devices (such as laptops, tablets and even smartphones) or digital screens with accompanying cameras and microphones.
2. AV input is converted to digital data.
As the end users communicate, the video input from the camera and audio input from the microphone are instantaneously converted from analog to digital by video conferencing software.
3. The digital video and audio is compressed.
Special compression software is used to “packetize” the video and audio data, which enables it to move faster over WiFi or broadband internet.
The clarity of the audio and video depend in part on the system’s compression ratio. Higher compression ratios, such as 100:1, provide a fluid, real-time communication experience. Lower compression ratios, such as 5:1, would appear choppy and staticky, which can be very distracting and even disruptive during a video conference.
The average compression rate for video conferencing is between 13.1 and 17.1. However, it’s also important that the system doesn’t experience bottlenecks due to a slow internet connection. Depending on each customer’s video conferencing needs, and compression rate, they might require greater internet bandwidth than a typical office environment.
4. The video and audio data reaches its destination.
Once the digital data arrives at the other endpoint(s), the software decompresses it to its original size and converts it back to analog. This step enables it to be viewed correctly on a computer monitor, digital display or television screen and heard through the device’s speakers.
5. Ideally, the listener clearly sees and hears the content.
Crystal-clear audio and video isn’t necessarily a given. Most video conferencing software takes a few additional steps to ensure that the audio and video are in sync and as clear as possible, including acoustic echo cancelation. This removes sound interference—such as overlapping speech from the other user—and eliminates any sound delays.
Although video conference technology isn’t perfect, today’s hardware and software are heads and shoulders above that of just 10 years ago. These days, your customers can expect a fairly smooth conferencing experience, without investing too significantly. And for those who have tight budgets, there’s always the option of conferencing SaaS, in which audio and video software are supplied as a cloud-based service.
Are you completely new to the video conferencing world? Are you considering incorporating video conferencing technology into your product offering?