Video conferencing made easier with mobile technology

PHOTO: Video conferencing made easier with mobile technology

Video conferencing used to be a complex affair involving huge screens, miles of cabling and no end of technicians. Then mobile gadgets muscled in.

Smartphones and tablets have joined purpose-built rooms with special equipment to make video conferencing easier and more convenient.

Users can now click on an app on their mobile device or a Web link to make or join in a video call.

It is this flexibility that has encouraged more companies to adopt video calls, said Cisco's sales manager for collaboration sales, Mr Kenneth Chong.

American tech giant Cisco provides networking as well as other communications equipment and related services.

"In the last six to nine months, I've seen more companies here adopting video conferencing because of this flexibility," he said.

Video calls are no longer limited to companies with offices around the region but are now being held between departments in any city, he added.

"There are many companies in Singapore with an office in the city area and a back office in the suburbs," said Mr Chong.

"An executive may want to dial into a video call from the suburb office using his mobile phone instead of battling traffic to return to his office in the city."

Mr Ng Pin, SingTel's director for managed and collaboration services in its enterprise group, added: "Calling is now seamless, it takes away the pain of configuring a video-conferencing call."

Mr Michael Alp, president of video-conferencing vendor Polycom Asia Pacific, said the availability of 3G and 4G networks, which have sufficient bandwidth to support video, is driving the use of mobile devices in video conferencing.

Compared to consumer-grade video calls like Skype, which is used over the Internet, business video calls have better security levels to protect users from intrusions like eavesdropping, said Mr Alp.

Video calls have also expanded beyond business meetings to include training sessions and health-care applications where, for example, a physiotherapist can show a patient the exercises to do for recovery.

Recordings can also be made of training sessions and then replayed as revision.

Research firm Gartner said the technology today lets users share content, e-mail and instant messaging during a video call session.

The market in Asia is still in its early days with little data to estimate demand, though feedback from video-conferencing service providers suggests strong interest from small or mid-sized businesses, it said.

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