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Video Conferencing – Then and Now
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2014
When Video Conferencing Fails
It was nearly 20 years ago that I had my first experience with video conferencing. During my senior year in high school in rural Minnesota, the school was on year two of having a dedicated ITV room that connected us to another rural school 20 miles away and to a nearby state college. In this way, we could share teachers for electives that didn’t get enough students from any one district to justify the course.

This room had four televisions lined up in a row near the front. The teacher could control which camera fed into each TV. Our psychology class for college credit was held at 7 a.m. with 14 students from my school and five students and an instructor from the other school.

A friend of mine, who was also in the class, still tells this story as endemic of who I am as a person. One morning, we had a test. The TVs were not working. There was no audio feed from the other school. On the desk was the test in a manila folder left there by the administrative assistant as usual. The test was open book.

It took almost no time for my classmates to start dividing up the questions and completely cheat. I didn’t participate, but not entirely because I was scared of cheating or out of a higher moral code.

I just didn’t trust all of them to get the right answers.

It turned out that the audio and video feed was working that day. Except it was only going one way. So 20 miles away, the teacher and other students were watching a classroom of people flat out cheat on a test. Everyone got a zero, however, I was given a chance to retake the test since I hadn’t participated.

Video conferencing failed us that day, but from another point of view, the students in the other classroom got an unintentional, yet fascinating chance to observe group think in action. It was like a psychological case study.

How Far Video Conferencing Has Come Since
In the years since, video conferencing has grown and evolved into exciting new, and more reliable, directions. Particularly with workforces being more and more spread out geographically.

“I only see it continuing to rise,” says Kathryn Gaskell, Product Manger at Chief.

UCC is the trendy term of the moment – taking voice and video and adding interactive components

Five years ago, video conferencing meant big systems – a big projection screen, a dedicated camera and codec. It was very hardware driven, says Nathan Bohl, Director of Product Management.

“The big selling benefit back in the day was privacy,” Bohl says. “Companies could control who had access. The big systems were very tied down and dependent on someone else having the same system.”

The onset of Skype and other social networks evolved the nature of video conferencing systems.

Desktop systems came along, which meant videoconferencing could happen anywhere.

New innovations and configurations are hitting the market all the time these days. Da-Lite has the ViewShare product, which embeds an HD camera right into the screen. With a USB connection, you have a quick way to add some video conferencing capabilities to a big room.

We’re also fans of Cisco’s TelePresence™ EX90, as well as the DX70 & DX80 Integrated Collaboration products that were launched at InfoComm 2014. So much so that we’ve got several solutions for mounting the EX90 to walls and desks via Thinstall or Kontour mounts, and the new DX products are fully compatible with Chief’s Kontour K1 and K2 series solutions without the need of a special bracket.

Vaddio’s huddle space products hit a nice middle ground between big rooms and desktop video conferencing solutions.

Room size is a primary consideration when putting together a UCC solutions package. Integrators sometimes have to convince customers not to use a display in a room that would be better served by a screen. No matter what the size of the room, Chief has solutions that support video conferencing. Other important factors to consider are security and what type of hardware or software will be in use.

“Chief provides the quality and ease of use they always bring to the market with a wide variety of flexible solutions,” Gaskell says.

For larger rooms, consider projector mounts connected to our new above ceiling storage solutions that maximize column location for less need to rely on image adjustments.

Smaller, permanent rooms can take advantage of the many options for customizing a Fusion mount with camera shelf, component storage, in wall boxes, and speaker adapters. Chief has accessories capable of placing the camera wherever works best for that particular space.

Video conferencing carts, complete with rack space for solutions that need a lot of hardware, are also available for temporary UCC spaces or to share resources between several rooms. Add a dual display accessory to accommodate two screens.

Even huddle spaces can benefit from ideal camera placement using Chief’s many shelf solutions.

Chief has solutions for any situation – carts, projector mounts, desktop solutions and camera mounts for boardrooms, huddle spaces, personal workstations and everything in between.

And please, make sure the next room you set up doesn’t trap another unfortunate group of students!