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Google Chat on Motorola Atrix Smartphone

In the process of evaluating the ZTE ZXV10 T700 (I will post the entire product review by weeks end…I hope), I went ahead and made a three way video conferencing call using  our friends at cloud-based video conferencing service provider Vidtel.

The picture above shows a Google Chat connection via my Toshiba Laptop computer (middle), the ZTE using H.323 (top), and my Motorola Atrix smartphone again using Google Chat (bottom right).

On the phone, I can change the camera, mute the mic, and send text chats.  In fact, Vidtel recognizes some of the text chats as commands…..very cool!

The moral of the story is this:

You are no longer tied to a conference room to participate in a video conference!  Anytime, anyplace, anywhere is here……NOW!

More to follow….

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Video Conferencing Product Update: LifeSize

As promised a few posts down, I will be studying a few video conferencing vendors to get a “snapshot” of where they are in mid to late 2011.  I will start with LifeSize.

Here we go….

Lifesize’s Overarching Philosophy

“Connect anyone, anywhere, any device”

What I Think of When I Think of Lifesize

High definition and SIP

Product Line

LifeSize, fitting a large company that has been in the business for a long time (not as long as me…but…almost no one fits that that ain’t already dead), offers a full range of endpoints (from mobile devices to “Telepresence” rooms) and infrastructure (such as MCU’s, HD recording and streaming, Management, Firewall transversal, and ISDN connectivity).

In short:  A complete architecture for the company that feels more comfortable with products from one vendor.

To me….High Definition video conferencing is the key driver for LifeSize.

Cloud Based Video Conferencing

Coming soon to a LifeSize near you will be a new, cloud-based, HD video conferencing service called LifeSize Connections.  It will be available any minute now, if not already available.

Connections promises 9 way HD video conferencing at 720p and 30 frames per second (fps), NAT/Firewall transversal, management and reporting, and pay-as-you-go pricing.  It does not say if it needs to be scheduled or if it can be true “ad-hoc” (??).  I assume ad-hoc is probably instant scheduling…but, I can be corrected.

I love cloud-based videoconferencing for the simple fact that if you decided to use this service, and already have endpoints, you can stop reading this blog right here!  There is no need for a company to purchase and operate (the very expensive) infrastructure as LifeSize Connections will provide that and all the needed FTE muscle to keep the network up and running.  Sweet.

Endpoints

The recent acquisition of Mirial seems to have filled in part of Lifesize’s philosophy by
giving them access to video conferencing at the mobile level with the Mirial “ClearSea” Andrioid and iPhone apps (see this blog entry) that allow mobile phone, or tablet, participants to
connect to standards based video conferencing endpoints and infrastructure…..no matter where they might be.

VERY cool!

Up one level (not that mobile is inferior or anything) is the Mirial desktop videoconferencing app (now called the Lifesize Softphone) that I have used, when it was Mirial, and thought was sweet (see this blog entry).

Again Full HD at 1080p is mentioned and it has the ability to connect to three participants without an MCU (!).  It works on Windows and Mac and includes H.239 data sharing.

Before the softphone, Lifesize introduced the LifeSize Desktop application for Windows computers (you can tell the corporate leanings by only supporting Windows while leaving out Mac and Linux).

Lifesize Desktop was the first all SIP endpoint that I tested (see this blog entry) and it was VERY good.

Using a 1 Mbps Internet connection, Desktop can send and receive video at 720p at 30 frames per second.  So yeah, you can move around and still be seen!  🙂  You can share the PC’s screen but it does not look like it supports full H.239 application sharing.

Up another level (maybe I am doing this by cost?) is the Lifesize Passport.  This is an external hardware device that can plug into your HDTV / Monitor and Personal computer giving you your own “Telepresence in the Palm of Your Hand” solution.

Again 720p resolution at 30 fps is available and, interestingly, it can connect to Skype!   It supports H.323 and SIP and the standard supply of video and audio protocols (including G.722.1C).

For the executive office, the LGExecutive provides HD video conferencing on the desktop.

Next up are the “room” type systems:

Lifesize Team 220 and Lifesize Room 220.

These consist of a hardware based encoder / decoder (ok codec), an HD camera, LifeSize Phone or LifeSize MicPod, and a remote.

But it looks like you are on the hook to buy one or more HDMI / DVI-I monitor(s).  Each of these codecs support H.323 and SIP, and the standard lineup of video and audio protocols (including G.722.1C).

The Team 220 (pictured) includes a 4 way continuous presence (CP) MCU while the Room 220 provides 8 way CP as well as 8 way video switched, VS (the speaker is seen full screen).

At the top of the line is the LifeSize Conference 200 “Telepresence” Room (see picture below) system with 1080p at 30 fps and 720p at 60 fps (60 fps? What….are we playing football?).

It comes with all the stuff you need, except the three monitors which LifeSize recommends be the same (I would probably get three different ones, just for fun).  Internet speeds needed are from 2.5 Mbps to 18 Mbps.  Yikes!   The data sheet does not specify H.323 or SIP, but, hey…I’m sure, right?

Cameras

Lifesize has four HD cameras.   From 720p at 30 fps to 1080p at 60 fps (for those involved in the conference room football game).

Here is the matrix:

Infrastructure

Whatever happened to gatekeepers?  Did I miss something?  Oh well…

The LifeSize Bridge can handle up to 48 participants without losing capacity or HD video capability.

So, for me, I would test it with 48, 1080p, 30 fps, endpoints and a honking big Internet connection (I can visit ESnet for the day?) and it should work….right?

The LifeSize Video Center can record, and auto-publish, up to 20 concurrent 720p30 HD streams and can provide 1,000 viewers with live HD streams.  It also says it can provide 350 on-demand simultaneous streams…I need to look up “on-demand” definition according to LifeSize.

For your management, scheduling (web-based), and reporting needs, LifeSize offers the LifeSize Control.

It says it can control and manage heterogeneous networks so I assume it can take care of my Polycom Viewstation or Tandberg 1000 or Codian MCU, Radvision Gatekeeper?  OK, I am probably asking a lot…

If you have a firewall, the LifeSize Transit can bust through it, and if you still have a need for ISDN (I can’t believe that people still do….but who am I) they have the LifeSize Networker.

Conclusion

My experience with LifeSize and LifeSize products has uniformly been good.  They have been around the industry for a long long time, they know what is needed, and are looking toward the future.  They are not afraid to innovate…I LIKE that!