Vidyo and Imago push personal telepresence

At a recent event in London, video conferencing company Vidyo and distributor Imago, gathered a group of journalists to share the ‘before and after Vidyo’ story and the consequences for the video conferencing industry.

“We found that our clients no longer want to be tied to a room to have a video conference or a telepresence experience,” said Ashish Gupta, Vidyo's CMO and SVP of corporate development. “They just want business applications, and they want the technology to work around them and not the other way round. We have to embrace mobile, tablets and smart phones, and we have to deliver quality.”

Up to now latency, bandwidth limitations, and the high cost of MCUs, limited the implementation of VC. Only companies with big budgets could benefit from it. But now the request from the customers has spread and the need for a good and fluent visual communication is essential.

Ian Vickerage, managing director of Imago Group PLC, said: “Latency on a video call was never a good experience. Latency is a communications killer. So far you could get round this by having an exclusive dedicated line, on a tailor made room, with a dedicated engineer to make sure everything run smooth. But this has always been quite costly. What we are offering now, thanks to Vidyo architecture, is high quality video conferencing, no matter what device you are using.”

Gupta added: “Latency is not just sound disruption, it also affects the image you are seeing. If you want to use VC on a medical application for instance, having an uninterrupted video call is essential to be able to talk to a patient and give accurate advice. Having the other person’s mouth on the right of the screen and the nose all the way to the left, on a sort of Picasso style, might be good for art but it is not good for communications.”

Vidyo’s proposition is personal telepresence. The term telepresence has been debated as just a marketing stunt, but in this case, Gupta explained that they are using the term to describe a video conference call that it’s almost as good as being in the presence of the other person, no matter where the speakers are. “We are not doing furniture,” he added.
Vidyo says its software-based solution is highly flexible and scalable, which opens opportunities to work with new vertical markets and more SMEs. Its robustness arises from Vidyo’s patented VidyoRouter architecture, which introduces Adaptive Video Layering. This dynamically optimises the video for each endpoint leveraging H.264 Scalable Video Coding (SVC)-based compression technology and Vidyo’s IP. Adaptive Video Layering eliminates the MCU and offers good error resiliency, low latency rate matching thus enabling natural, affordable, high-quality video to work over the Internet, LTE and 4G networks. The platform allows users to quickly leverage the latest hardware innovations and new consumer devices.

Vidyo has been active driving H.264 SVC and SIP videoconferencing interoperability in various standards bodies since 2005. Now it is working on H.265 SVC where it will be able to offer the same HD quality for half a bit rate.

Vidyo is standards based, easy to implement and scale. According to Gupta, it costs a fraction of what it costs from what the same solution would from other manufactures. So we asked, “How long until world domination and obliteration of the competition?”

Gupta said: “Competition is always good and the market is huge, there is room for everybody to work. The problem with the incumbent VC companies is not so much the technology - although companies that have stick to common standards have a better chance to succeed than those that have gone their own route. The challenge for many traditional VC companies is their infrastructure. That rigid frame makes adaptation to current needs more difficult.”

Vickerage added: “Clients don’t care about the technology, they want a business application that resolves their issues and addresses their needs. This is why we are a offering hosted video as a service across Europe.”

Imago has become the first European ‘hosted distributor’ of Vidyo’s videoconferencing solutions. The company has built a hosted service, VaaS-t (Video as a Service-trade only), using Vidyo technology, which Imago’s reseller network will be able to sell to end-customers in a subscription model, removing the sales and deployment complexity of infrastructure deployment out of the equation.  The absence of any capital outlay will permit users to enjoy cost-effective, risk-free adoption of video conferencing, while enabling resellers to convert the current high levels of interest in video-conferencing into a revenue stream far more quickly.

The hosted service is available in the UK, France, Holland and Belgium. Imago will continue to offer the full range of Vidyo products that they have been distributing since November 2010.

“With this Vidyo-based hosted service, VaaS-t, we are now able to offer our reseller network the ability to provide end-users an affordable, telepresence-quality visual communication service that is easily accessed over the Internet or general purpose IP networks, " said Vickerage. "This service will be particularly well-suited for companies that don’t have the in-house IT expertise to deploy and manage hardware and software. Accessing our video conferencing service will be no more complicated than renting a movie online."

According to a survey commissioned by Vidyo in the summer, 75% of UK businesses with a business-grade videoconferencing solution had received upgrade proposals in the last three years that involve writing off or replacing some or all of their existing videoconferencing hardware investment.  Vidyo’s software architecture significantly reduces the burden of such hardware write-offs by making software upgrades seamlessly available to customers with on-premise solutions or on hosted platforms provided by service providers.