Multi-Party Video Conferencing

Video conferencing has become increasingly popular over the past few years as businesses see the benefits not only of greater employee productivity and the ability to more easily communicate with workers, partners and customers, but also as a way of reducing expenses, including travel costs. Most of the early systems were complex and expensive room-based offerings from vendors like Cisco Systems, Polycom and Hewlett-Packard. However, the trend is moving away from these expensive systems and more toward software, driven by such trends as increasing mobility, cloud computing and bring-your-own-device (BYOD).

Future Video conferencing will be used not only by businesses, but by families who want to keep in touch.  There are already several systems available. However, most of these sytems currently do not perform satisfactorily, mainly beause of reliability and bandwidth factors.  Below are extracts from a study performed in Holland:

Abstract. More and more free multi-party video conferencing applica-tions are readily available over the Internet and both Server-to-Client(S/C) or Peer-to-Peer (P2P) technologies are used. Investigating their mechanisms, analyzing their system performance, and measuring their quality are important objectives for researchers, developers and end users.  In this paper, we take four representative video conferencing applica-tions and reveal their characteristics and different aspects of Quality of Experience.

Through a series of local and global experiments with four representative video conferencing systems, we examined their behavior and mechanisms, and investigated their login process, the call establishment process, the packet size distribution, transfer protocols, tra±c load, delivery topology, and different aspects of Quality of Experience.

Our main conclusions from the measurement results on the traffic characteristics of four different video conferencing systems are:

(1) The QoE of multi-party video conferencing is very sensitive to bandwidth fluctuations, especially in the uplink. Hence, an adaptive resolution/frame rate policy should be deployed;

(2) When the number of participants increases, the tra±c load at each paricipant does not always increase correspondingly , suggesting that re-encoding at the video or a traffic shaping policy take place to control the overall traffic in the system.

Our QoE measurement results are summarized as:

(1) Compared with the non real-time multimedia services (i.e. P2PTV [9]), existing Internet video conferencing applications in general cannot provide very good quality to their end users (poor video and audio quality, large audio-video lag, and long communication delay in some cases);

(2) Only a limited number of multimedia participants are supported and rare high definition webcamera streaming is supported due to the limited available bandwidth or the limited processing capability; (3) The existing systems are not reliable in the worst cases. When the network is unstable or the available upload bandwidth is very limited (thresholds have been found), none of the applications work properly.

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Below is a list of  some of the existing suppliers of Multi-Party Video Conferencing systems:

VuRoom by GigaOM

vuroom-sampleWe really like the Skype platform, so when looking for a way to overcome our technical challenges we looked for ways to “piggyback” on our existing system. I believe we have found our solution with VuRoom, a video conferencing plugin for Skype.

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 Nefsis Multipoint Video Conferencing via the Cloud

nefsisNefsis provides a true, massively distributed cloud for unrivaled quality in multipoint video conferencing.  The Nefsis cloud constantly adapts to changing conditions on the Internet, as well as your local network, delivering the highest quality experience possible for your multipoint video conference.

Some products claiming to be a ‘cloud’ are really just a large centralized data center supplying a service, without any of the benefits of cloud-based service distribution. A true cloud, like Nefsis, offloads and distributes the experience across the Web.

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Zoom.us Offers Free Cloud-Based, Multi-Party Video

Zoom Video Communications is the latest startup to enter the increasingly crowded video conferencing market, rolling out a free service called zoom.us that enables up to 15 people to participate in a video call from PCs or mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets.

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VSee. A human factors approach to Video Collaboration.

vseeVSee allows you to do work with one or more parties in a video call. Based on cutting edge human factors research, VSee builds trust between teammates by allowing them to see each other’s body language and facial expressions. VSee includes 720P high-definition video for times when you need absolute clarity in video or simply when you need to impress with brilliant image quality.

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