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Ricoh Picks Vidyo Technology For Portable Videoconferencing System

Tokyo-based Ricoh, best known for printers and copiers, is getting into the growing unified communications (UC) market, adopting scalable video coding technology from Vidyo for a portable videoconferencing system. The Ricoh Unified Communication System P3000 model delivers high-definition, multipoint videoconferencing, as well as the ability to share documents and photos, using a 3.5-pound portable room system.

Vidyo’s scalable video coding software, based on the H.264 industry standard, delivers a video signal over the Internet or a corporate network and adjusts the signal for the available bandwidth and the type of endpoint device. That means the video signal can be seen clearly on a room telepresence system, a conventional desktop computer or even a smartphone without the latency or jittery image of less sophisticated systems.

According to Ricoh’s website, pricing for the P3000 starts at about $2,500, plus a monthly service fee. The system, which will become available sometime this month, includes a built-in camera, microphone, speaker and a wired or wireless LAN port. Because it's so portable, the system can be set up on short notice and stored in a closet when not in use.

UC combines voice, video, email, instant messaging and document sharing for the purposes of collaboration among workers who may be in distant locations. Demand is driven by globalization, more widely distributed work forces and the need to curtail air travel for both environmental and economic reasons.

Because videoconferencing is an important piece of a UC system, a number of videoconference makers such as Cisco Systems, Logitech and Polycom are offering video technology-based UC products. Polycom also uses Vidyo scalable video coding in its offerings.

Gartner forecasts a compound annual growth rate of 15.2% for the video endpoint systems market through 2015. Infonetics predicts enterprises will spend $5 billion on videoconferencing and telepresence systems by 2015.

Vidyo’s VidyoRouter product eliminates the need for a physical multipoint control unit (MCU) router in conventional videoconferencing systems. Using a process Vidyo calls Adaptive Video Layering, the signal is adjusted for the bandwidth and the endpoint device without requiring the Multipoint Label Switching (MPLS) packet switching protocol or use of expensive dedicated T1 lines. According to a Vidyo blog post, such T1 lines can cost $100 a month, or $10,000 a month for a 100-location video network.

In November 2010, HP announced that it was adopting Vidyo technology in its Visual Collaboration product line, but ended up selling the business unit to Polycom just a few months later. Polycom announced July 28 the completion of that acquisition, which also included HP's Halo high-end telepresence platform.

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