Types of VoIP Video ConferencesBy:Robert Pepper (G+)
There are two basic types of video conferences, point to point, and multipoint. The teleconferencing hardware can be as simple as a webcam on a computer, or be an entire system of large screens and hi-fidelity audio designed to make you feel like you’re in the same room with a person you’re communicating with from halfway across the world.
A point to point video conference, as the name suggest, only involves two parties. This is the most common kind of video conference. A P-to-P videoconference is easy to set up. One party connects to the other directly, they have their meeting, and the conference ends when one person ends the call. Having a point to point videoconference does not require sophisticated hardware and software. You can just use Skype and a laptop webcam if you like.
Having three or more locations usually requires a conference bridge. For audio only, many business VoIP providers are able to squeeze many different callers into one line, but video requires much higher bandwidth. Each video requires more bandwidth the higher quality and larger it is. For example, a low quality video that takes up 1/16th of the screen will use ~28 kbps; a medium quality video that takes up 1/4th of the screen uses ~128 kbps; and a full screen of high quality will need ~512 kbps. Remember, also, that each additional video needs that much bandwidth as well. So, four 1/4th screen videos will require as much bandwidth as one full screen video.
You are not limited to only having one screen, or only using a computer. A set-top or appliance videoconferencing system is a package of a monitor screen and a built-in camera. Often these systems are kept on carts, and can be rolled into a conference room corner after the meeting, or into another room. A set top video conferencing system is good for small and medium sized meetings.
Room videoconferencing, also called “integrated videoconference rooms” is when you build the infrastructure needed for a video conference into the conference room itself. This is a significant investment, but it has many advantages. This kind of system usually has one main camera directed at a presenter. Peripheral cameras are strategically mounted at other points of interest, and can be controlled automatically by software, or manually by a participant. In an integrated room, the lighting, microphones and cameras are all placed in optimal locations, as are the wires and cables, as well. Most importantly, the screen itself is centrally located, so the “tele-participants” are all involved in the discussion.
The best quality of video conference is Telepresence. Telepresence uses the highest quality cameras and microphones, the largest screens, and requires the most bandwidth. Telepresence gives the impression that you are in the same room with the other participants. It is a total immersion experience that, for practical purposes, eliminates geographic limitations. Although telepresence can require a significant outlay, the investment can cut down on the need for travel, and lead to productivity gains.