Long distance communication has vastly improved over the years. The messages that men used to deliver through pigeons are now delivered personally through videoconferencing. Thousands of business deals, mergers and diplomatic conflicts are being resolved everyday thanks to the small but powerful video conference camera.
History of Video Conferencing
Contrary to popular belief, the video conference camera is not the brainchild of a single person. In fact, its creation is a product of the collaborated efforts and ideas of various minds across the globe.
The first echoes of a video conference camera came in 1936 in the form of the German Video Telephone Network. This system connected to television systems through cables and radio waves. Similarly, NASA used radio frequency to establish video links with the first space explorers.
Efforts to miniaturize and commercialize video-telephone systems were attempted in the 50s and the 70s. However, these attempts failed due to poor picture quality, low unit sales and a small network.
When the 80’s gave way for ISDN Networks, video-telephone technology became available to consumers. In fact, PictureTel Corp. Began offering video conferencing systems to the public in November of 1984.
The market saw a boom in videoconferencing systems in the 2000s when internet applications such as Skype and iChat were introduced. These applications allowed people on opposite sides of the globe to see each other while they talked and typed. Today, a high-definition video conference camera and a fast internet connection make people seem like they are in the same room.
Types of Conference Cameras
The video conference camera is the most important tool in video conferencing or telepresence meeting. Without it, the conversation is only a phone call over the internet. There are several types of video cameras namely webcams, digital video cameras and mobile phone cameras.
The web cam is the earliest form of video conference camera. Initially, webcams were after-market gadgets that were attached to the CPU of a personal computer. Today, most monitors and laptops have built-in web cameras.
An ideal webcam should have at least a 640×480 resolution and is capable of a 30fps (frames per second) frame rate. A webcam can have either a Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) sensor or a Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) sensor.
CCD cameras are perfect for delivering high-quality images. However, they require more power and faster internet connections. On the other hand, CMOS cameras have less quality, but they are cheaper and they last longer.
Choosing between a CCD and a CMOS video conference camera rests upon the buyer’s quality preference and purchasing power. Depending on quality, web cameras range from $20-$150.
Digital Video Cameras
Digital Video Cameras are the best cameras for video conferencing in terms of image quality and speed. This type of video conference camera costs upwards of $250. That’s why it’s commonly used for more sensitive discussions such as diplomatic talks or government meetings.
The digital video camera is also perfect for large conferences that involve multiple attendees in one location. That’s because the camera has a pan/zoom capability that is better than that of a webcam.
Mobile Phone Cameras
Most of the mobile phones today can also act as a video conference camera. The feature was first made available to 3G capable cell phones. These cell phones had cameras in the front so that the caller can see the person he is calling through his phone’s screen. Of course, video calls had a higher rate compared to regular calls and were charged by the minute.
Today, most Smartphones can be connected to the internet. This prompted developers and programmers to create software downloadable software that can be used for video chats.
Advantages of Video conferencing for Businesses
Video conferencing is the epitome of green communication. It allows people to connect and resolve issues without leaving the comforts of their home or office. Plus, a video conference is easy to set-up. All a person needs is a video conference camera, an internet connection and video conferencing software to get going.
Eco-Friendly and Space-Saving
Traditionally, conferences and business meetings required a lot of travelling to various locations all over the globe. However, every distance they travelled left a carbon footprint that contributed to global warming. Because a video conference camera allows people to talk real-time without having to leave their offices, it is the best example of green communication.
In relation to this, videoconferencing helps companies save space. Traditionally, conferences required wide rooms with long tables and multiple chairs. Since videoconferencing allows people to communicate from their offices, they do not need to gather in large rooms. This means the space can be used for something more productive.
Faster and More Personalized
Regular phone calls allow people to communicate in real-time. However, they do not allow callers to see the facial expressions behind the words. This means phone calls or conference call are less productive than conversations in person.
On the other hand, a video conference camera gives callers the ability to see each other. This allows them to assess the sincerity and honesty behind the statements made by their conversation partners.
In addition, the presentation of programs, reports and other pertinent data becomes faster when done through videoconferencing. For instance, a secretary can easily leave an important fact sheet in the office, and running back to get it would be impractical. With videoconferencing, the people in the meeting do not need to leave their offices; hence all their necessary data are within arm’s reach.
Cost-Effective and Time-Saving
Companies that undergo meetings through a video conference camera have the potential to save thousands on gas money, hotel rooms and plane tickets. Similarly, hosts of the meeting need not prepare snacks, lunches or any other amenities to entertain their guests. This helps the company save a great deal of money.
A conversation over a video conference camera also helps save time. There are occasions when businessmen need to get on an 8-hour flight just to attend a 30-minute meeting. This means a lot of time is spent on travelling instead of on making decisions. With video conferencing, travelling is no longer required; hence problems and conflicts can be resolved immediately.
In addition, employees need not worry about adapting to time-changes brought about travelling to different countries. Even if the meeting involves people from different continents, all they have to do is to agree on a specific time and then set their clocks based on their time zone.
It is truly inspiring how a small video conference camera has changed the way people communicate. But beyond business conferences and political meetings, video conferencing has allowed people to maintain their personal relationships with people who are literally miles away.