Video Conferencing

There are many definitions of the term video conference. We will discuss only some of them.

A video conference is a set of interactive telecommunication technologies which allow two or more locations to interact via two-way video and audio transmissions simultaneously, using their PCs (data transmission) irrespective of the distance” (Wikipedia).

A video conference is a way of holding meetings and discussions among the groups of remote users with on-line image transmission” (Explanatory dictionary of Internet terms).

A video conference is a meeting, methodological session or a discussion between people located in different places and using video technology as the main communication channel. Thereby two-way sound and one- or two-way video is provided” (Wikipedia).

It should be clear from above definitions, they all have one thing in common – they explain video conferencing as one of the ways of communication which allow groups of people to communicate by exchanging images and sound among all or some of the participants.

What are the Advantages of Communication via Video Conferencing?

  • In terms of a psychological effect there is more sense involved during a video conference than during a regular telephone conversation. Among hearing, there is a vision, which allows participants to understand each other better through gestures and mimics;
  • In terms of economy it is possible to a video conference without forcing every participant of it to leave their workplace, which directly affects transportation and other related costs;
  • In terms of convenience video conferencing is an easy and affordable alternative to telephone solutions.

Types of video conferences

There are four major types of video conferencing: a point-to-point video conference, group (or multi-point) video conference, video meeting and a web conference.

A point-to-point video conference is the most common type of video conferencing, which allows both participants to see and hear each other as well as exchange different types of information special features.

A group video conference involves communication between three or more participants at the same time. In this type of video conferencing, every participant can see and hear all the others, and vice versa. Such conferences most frequently use video servers which provide a connection between several video sources and typically include terminals and video conferencing gatewaysVideo conferencing server can be both software and hardware in nature.

A video meeting (or role-based video conference) is a video conference held by a large number of participants. There are three roles in this type of video conference: the host, the reporter and the speaker from the audience and the listener. An owner can swap the roles among other participants in real-time, while only speakers and the host could be seen and heard by listeners simultaneously.

A web-conference (also known as a webinar) is a video conference used to organize live meetings and on-line presentations. In this case every participant connects to the conference from its own computer through the client-server technology via the Internet. A client application, which usually uses Flash and Java technologies, should be previously downloaded and installed. Webinars perform best when the host’s audio and video are broadcasted along with other media like presentations or documents.

Video conferencing in Everyday Life

Everybody’s life today is transformed through intensive development of high-speed Internet technologies available at home, on vacation or even while travelling. Wide opportunities for using video communication solutions and technologies for point-to-point video conferencing using a web camera and a PC opens up. Moreover, video conferencing hardware prices have fallen significantly, which makes the use of this type of communication even more affordable.

Visual connection is an important component of every meeting. If the participants cannot meet physically or if the travel and time expenses play a crucial role in decision-making, in such cases video conferencing is in demand whenever live communication is required.

Video conferencing for Business

If applied accurately, video conferencing can bring huge financial and administrative benefits to large and multi-branch companies as well as companies which use distant employees. Video conferencing enhances operational efficiency, productivity and competitiveness, which leads to an increase in the company’s profit.

Video conferencing helps speed up the decision-making process, increases access to information and expertise, reduces the travel time for business trips (and, consequently, travel-related expenses and stress), raises labour productivity and makes the distribution of resources more efficient. Besides, it reduces the time of launching products on the market as well as the time of response to market change.

Video conferencing in Education

Video conferencing helps simplify the process of distance learning thanks to a two-way (point-to-point) video connection. Moreover, it enables teachers and students from all over the world to gather together into one audience (multipoint video conferences, video meetings and web-conferences). By using video conference students can access any part of the world without leaving their classrooms, communicating with other students and teachers. Virtual classrooms allow the students, especially those isolated geographically and economically, to get the knowledge only the best educational establishments provide. Schools can make use of this technology e.g. by teaching children the languages they can rarely encounter in their own regions.

Video conferencing in Medicine

Video conferencing can also be successfully used in remote diagnostics, treatment and consulting. Moreover, it offers such important advantages as continuous education and further training for medical staff. There’s a special term for this way of video conferencing application – telemedicine.

In diagnostics and distance learning it is widely accepted to exchange pictures made with a digital camera from over the operating table, microscope, video-endoscope, or any other specific device. It is also possible to transmit telemetry information: pulse repetition frequency, blood pressure.

Application of video conferencing in medicine will allow to improve people’s health, which in many cases depends on the access to quality medical services. Generally accessibility of the medical services rises thanks to video conferences held between highly-qualified specialists and institutes on diagnostics and treatment.