Vidyo ‘personal’ videoconferencing can now serve large enterprises, carriers

Maybe successful videoconferencing is all about the architecture. At least that is the premise at Vidyo, a purveyor of conferencing tools based in Hackensack, N.J.

Founded in 2005, the company says it has raised $74 million in venture capital. It went live with its solution in 2008, licensing the technology to OEM partners Google, HP, Hitachi, Ricoh and others.

New here is the idea that quality videoconferencing—or “personal telepresence,” as the company likes to call it—can be achieved not as a product of bandwidth and systems configuration, but rather as the result of highly skillful routing.

To understand the Vidyo solution, it helps to consider the shortcoming of other current videoconferencing protocols, said Marty Hollander, Vidyo senior vice president for market development.

In a typical remote conferencing solution, the video signal travels at the whim of the network. Bandwidth availability, latency factors and device compatibility all can slow the signal and impede conference quality. The result in some cases is a less-than-natural flow to the conversation.

With its VidyoRouter Cloud Edition, the latest iteration of its existing router product, the company continues to press the notion that quality conferencing is best achieved by adapting the structure of the network to the needs of the video signal, rather than crunching that signal through a sometimes uncooperative network.

Vidyo achieves this by intelligent routing, sending conference data from point to point along the most direct route. A basic example: Conference participants in Europe feed their signal to a Vidyo device. That signal then travels out in individual streams to individual users in Asia and North America.

To make the model even more effective, put in a Vidyo device in the U.S. and Asian locations. Now the European device beams out to those remote devices; the signal is then passed along to individual users. The art here lies in consolidating conversations through a single router, then feeding data back out to individual participants over the wide area network.

“A key point of this whole thing is that we are going to a personalized way of communication,” Hollander said.

The local routers keep pressure off the system, dramatically reducing bandwidth issues regardless of the number of users. “There is no limitation. It’s just a matter of how many VidyoRouters you have. This is an architecture that delivers unlimited scalability in an affordable manner,” Hollander said.

That scalability is going to become ever more important, Vidyo predicts, as two market forces continue to escalate. First, there is the growing demand for videoconferencing as an inexpensive alternative to business travel. At the same time, the increasingly pervasive adoption of laptops, smartphones and tablets will put further strain on network operators to support videoconferencing across an organization.

Keeping in mind the evolving landscape of computing technology, Vidyo has been designed to work on systems ranging from whole-room setups to personal portable devices. “We need to work on whatever video-enabled endpoints our people may have,” Hollander said.

In addition to the growing range of devices, and the escalating demand for capacity, price also factors in, and Vidyo company says its concept of a floating license also can help keep costs down. When one geographic region is busy at work, it can be using Vidyo resources. As the sun rise rises over the next third of the world, a new set of users can turn on Vidyo, and so forth, without the company having to pay for additional connection resources. All the availability; one-third of the cost.

With its cloud-based infrastructure and its resultant scalability, Vidyo says it can accommodate the growing demand for capacity at a cost-effective price point. The company claims it can enable 3,000 users with personal telepresence for the cost of one telepresence room build out.

Vidyo pricing starts at $10,000 for a small-business user with 10 concurrent users. The company has been landing larger enterprise customers as well. In the education sector, clients include Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz. On the medical side, the Royal College of Speech and Pathology in the United Kingdom has joined other institutions who are using the technology to connect with remote patients.

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