Believe it or not, the first instance of video conferencing happened in the 1870s, when Bell Labs invented the concept of transmitting an image and audio over wire. Today, video conferencing is an advanced technology that is responsible for keeping the world economy moving during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Because of video conferencing, companies were able to leverage remote work, doctors were safe while treating patients during basic check-ups, and families and friends stayed connected when social distancing threatened to keep them isolated. With light shined on its possibilities, the video conferencing market is expected to grow to $8.67 billion by 2025.
Video conferencing can be a powerful tool for any business or organization. This guide will help you understand how it works, its benefits and shortfalls, and what you can do to keep your video conferencing systems secure, efficient and effective for driving business.
Definition of Video Conferencing
In its most basic definition, video conferencing is when two or more people communicate via a live call that has both visual and audio components. Participants can interact in real time, and can see and hear each other, despite the distance between them.
Video conferencing can be conducted over a desktop computer, tablet, mobile device, gaming console, or television, provided the device is equipped with a strong internet connection. The device used for video conferencing also requires speakers and a microphone, and a video camera that can see the participants.
How Video Conferencing Works
For those curious about how the technology behind video conferencing works, think of it like packing a suitcase: you fold your clothing into a compact, smaller form so it can travel, then when you get to your destination, you unpack and unfold your clothing to wear it.
It’s much like this during a video call. During the video conference, your device’s camera and microphone capture analog video and audio signals. The signals it captures are a continuous flow of data that represents sounds, colors, depth, and brightness.
This data is quite large, so it needs to be compressed for it to transmit. Codecs (hardware/software technology) compress and decompress the data into digital packets.
Once compressed, the video and audio data can be transmitted over a digital network. A strong internet connection ensures the clean transmission of the data (the advent of 5G has made video conferencing a reliable means of communication).
Once the data reaches the other participant’s video conferencing system, it is decompressed and translated back into analog video images and audio sounds.
Hardware, Software, and Digital Components Used for Video Conferencing
If you want to conduct a video call that is secure and stable, here is what you need:
- A network to transfer the data - A high-speed broadband internet connection is typically used for video conferencing. Less popular network types include VoIP, LAN, and ISDN. Video conferencing can also use an organization’s internal network (a.k.a. intranet). To ensure security, the network should be encrypted.
- Device with a screen - Each participant needs access to a device that is connected to the network. The device can be a desktop computer, mobile phone, tablet, or even a television or gaming console.
- Microphones - Each participant’s device must be equipped with a microphone, either internal or external.
- Speakers - Each participant’s device must have speakers, either internal or external.
- Video Conferencing Software
- Codecs - The word “codec” is a combination of the words “compressor” and “decompressor. Video conferencing data is quite large, so it needs help transmitting from one device to another – this is where codecs come in. Codecs are coding and decoding technology (can be in either hardware or software form) that compresses and decompresses the video conferencing data, making it possible to transmit it in a quick and stable form. Most video conferencing software has codecs built in.
- Acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) software - There are many sounds in our natural environment that our microphones can capture, impacting the sound quality of the video conference. AEC software remove echoes, reverberation, and unwanted added sounds; it also reduces audio delays and supports real-time communication.
The Pros and Cons of Video Conferencing
The benefits of video conferencing:
- Improved Productivity - 77% of remote workers report higher productivity levels when working from home. Video conferencing’s screen sharing, remote access, and quick and easy real-time communication capabilities give workers the tools they need to be efficient.
- Time and Cost Savings - Video conferencing has been shown to save companies thousands of dollars annually due to its ability to streamline projects and shorten timelines. Because it allows employees to work remotely, it saves them thousands of dollars annually in travel costs.
- Healthy Living - The ability to let employees work remotely prevents workers from coming into contact with health hazards such as contagious diseases.
- Enhanced Communication - One of the biggest roadblocks to efficiency is failures in communication. With video conferencing, employees can demonstrate and explain exactly what they need by using visual aids, then get immediate feedback. This is impossible to do with email, audio conferencing, and SMS.
The drawbacks of video conferencing:
- Initial Costs - An investment in computer technology that enables video conferencing can be an inhibitor to adoption. However, if your workplace already has computer devices and network access, then the costs for adoption are minimal.
- Security - Much like with every new technology, the advent of video conferencing brought with it nefarious actors intent on exploiting vulnerabilities in network and video conferencing security. So long as you have an encrypted network and security protections built into your video conferencing platform (like BlueJeans), security shouldn’t be an issue.
- Unreliable Internet - Video conferencing relies on internet access, and if a participant’s connection is unstable, it can cause delays and hangs in the call. With the advent of 5G across the globe and even in rural locations, internet unreliability is becoming a thing of the past.
Main Features of Video Conferencing
- Ease of Use - BlueJeans video conferencing software makes joining a meeting directly from a web browser easy, with no passwords or downloads required.
- Best in Class Sound Quality & Noise Cancellation - BlueJeans’ Dolby Voice technology suppresses background noise while maintaining consistent volume levels across soft and loud talkers to make sure nothing is missed or misunderstood. Our spatial audio makes it easier to focus on the content of the conversation by presenting each person’s voice from a distinct location, so everyone hears as if they were together in the same room regardless of their location or device.
- Screen Sharing - The ability to show the people in your meeting visuals on your computer screen is the easiest and quickest way to convey what you need. It accelerates brainstorming and solutions-focused action. With BlueJeans’ video conferencing software, you can give multiple participants screen sharing access, so it’s never a one-way street – it’s a collaborative approach to meetings.
- Real-time and Concurrent Annotation - To be able to make notes on the screen simultaneously with other participants is an important tool for robust collaboration. This is a key feature offered by BlueJeans’ video conferencing software.
- Best in Class Security - To avoid security breaches, secure video conferencing is a must-have. Keep your conversations secure with BlueJeans’ Restricted Meetings and by having all content in transit encrypted using AES-256 GCM.
- Chat Box - Questions and comments can be made in the native chat box without interrupting the speaker. The BlueJeans chat box also offers a private chat function.
- Content Sharing - Our video conferencing supports content sharing and whiteboarding and integrates with Microsoft Outlook and Slack. Our software lets you send text, video and audio files, no third-party solution necessary.
- Ability to record moments - Record segments of your video call or the entire thing. Stored in secure containers in the cloud, recordings are encrypted at rest (AES-256bit) and are accessible to the recording originator. This allows for playback at a later time, share with other participants, or the ability to use the recorded content for video collateral in internal training or external promotion.
- Device Switching - Switch between devices in the middle of a call. You can begin a video conference on your mobile phone as you head into the office, then seamlessly switch to your desktop computer when you get to your desk. This is a great feature that helps you never be late for a meeting.
Ready to learn more about BlueJeans Video Conferencing platform? Sign-up for a free video conferencing trial today.