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Enterprise Connect: Vidyo Intros Videoconference Recording, Playback

Vidyo appliance uses the Scalable Video Coding protocol rather than the Multipoint Control Unit found in more traditional videoconferencing systems.

Videoconferencing vendor Vidyo came to Enterprise Connect in Orlando with a string of product announcements and also showcased its work with a key customer: Arizona State University.

Building on last week's announcement of Vidyo Cloud Edition, Vidyo this week announced the introduction of videoconference recording and playback capabilities and that its technology is available as a plug-in to Microsoft Lync. Hewlett-Packard also built one of its major booth demos around videoconferencing solutions based on technology licensed from Vidyo.

The VidyoReplay appliance records video sessions so they can be viewed at a later time with through a browser, using the standard FLV Flash video format. It also provides DVR-like functionality, allowing a participant who comes in late or has to step away during the course of a video conference to rewind and see what he missed. The Vidyo product line is built around a series of these appliances, particularly the VidyoRouter for managing conference sessions. Vidyo's cloud product is not a service the company itself hosts but rather an appliance that can be used by service providers or large enterprises to better manage video traffic on a wide area network or the Internet.

A key feature of the Vidyo technology is that it does away with the Multipoint Control Unit, or MCU, which is the core of traditional videoconferencing systems. An MCU gathers the video streams from all participants, transcodes them, and then redistributes them. In the Vidyo architecture, a video router sorts out which streams need to be transmitted to which other locations and also adjusts the data that is transmitted to take best advantage of the available bandwidth without overwhelming the network. The Scalable Video Coding (SVC) protocol Vidyo employs is a newer standard that the company is seeking to have adopted by the Unified Communications Interoperabity Forum. Though it's not widely adopted, Microsoft and Polycom are also working on implementations.

Meanwhile, Vidyo says it is able to deliver better video quality over leaner networks than its competitors. In a briefing for press and analysts, CEO Ofer Shapiro said the problem with high-end systems such as Cisco Telepresence is "it's a great replacement for the corporate jet, but not for everyday use."

Telepresence is a form of videoconferencing that features high-resolution images and custom rooms with optimal lighting and sound. Vidyo calls what it delivers "personal telepresence" because it also features high resolution but can be viewed on commodity PCs and monitors, either at the desktop or in a room setting.

By reducing bandwidth requirements by about 75%, Vidyo makes it possible to deploy videoconferencing widely, without expensive network upgrades, Shapiro said. "This will allow the technology to deploy and proliferate faster, after people have seen the value."

Thomas W. Carhart, vice president of marketing and business for HP visual collaboration, said customers can embrace this technology "without having to invest in Quality of Service and all that stuff" because Vidyo provides its own bandwidth optimizations to ensure QoS. "This provides more dynamic collaboration at a lower cost, and it works very well over 4G."

HP has already announced its intent to apply the technology to the next generation of its telepresence rooms, in a bid to bring down the cost of those solutions.

Charles Kazilek, director of technology integration and outreach for the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University, says Vidyo technology allowed him to meet a challenge set by his dean that he initially thought might be impractical or unaffordable. The school's scientists struck up a relationship with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), and videoconferencing is helping them collaborate with scientists in Panama and Washington, D.C.

Kazilek said Vidyo's technology stands out in "price, flexibility, and the ability to work over consumer-grade phone lines." Although deployment of the technology has so far been limited mostly to the one school at ASU, "it would go absolutely viral if it was within my power to give it to everybody," he said.

In actuality, ASU will "step it out slowly," Kazilek said, but he has also seen interest from the engineering program and the university's Critical Languages Institute.

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