The evolution of video conferencing

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Every technology has to withstand the test of time and evolve itself as a household name for consumers, enterprise and retail, alike, to become sustainable and pioneering in a fast changing world. Video conferencing is such a technology that has evolved from being a remotely possible expensive solution to making its presence felt in almost every digital device that are part of our lives.

Over the years, there have been many pitfalls during its journey, but pioneers in the field like Telstra video conferencing have been champions of innovation and have helped evolved it to its present form.

The initial days

Video conferencing received a grand launch in the year 1964 at the World’s Fair held in New York which caught the eye of technology enthusiasts as having the potential to shape the technological roadmap. At that time however, the cost of manufacturing a video conferencing system was too expensive to make it available to the masses. Companies like AT&T which launched Picturephone a few years later demonstrated a lot of creativity but came with a lot of price. During that time, companies started developing their own video conferencing technologies inside their laboratories. Nippon established a video conferencing system between Tokyo and Osaka in 1976. Ericsson made the first trans-Atlantic LME video call, as the world started to recognize its power and future prospect. Emergence of protocols like Network Video Protocol (NVP) and Packet Video Protocol (PVP) took video conferencing to the fast lane of development. This parallel emergence of Internet helped it grow at a very rapid rate in the late 1970s and in the 1980s.

The 1980s saw attempts by companies like Compression Labs, Mitsubishi, among others, to reach out to the consumer market with their own video conferencing systems. However, they were too expensive still, with only large corporations being able to afford them. One industry which gave immediate acceptance to video conferencing technologies is the Military and Defense industry. It found immense use in their applications and enabled remote connectivity between various military bases and campus.

Video Conferencing

The advancement

Among the major hurdles video conferencing system faced during its evolution are relatively low compression techniques for the video, picture quality, bandwidth of transmission and manufacturing costs. These bottlenecks were necessary to overcome if video conferencing companies wanted to make their products available to the general household and personal computers. The emergence and rapid growth of the Internet Protocol (IP) based technologies spelt a boon for the online video industry. The digital transmission of voice and video in the 1980s and the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) brought about a revolution in the video conferencing technologies, as the speed of transmission went up manifold and the cost to implement it was reduced significantly.

Essentially voice and video belonged to different bandwidths and the ability to transmit them in the same line simultaneously was the major breakthrough video conferencing needed. As a result, the 1990s saw video conferencing reach out to the end consumers like never before. In 1993, IBM introduced the first PC-based video conferencing. Apple revolutionized the industry in 1992 with CU-SeeMee that enabled video conferencing over the Internet. Initially CU-SeeMe did not have audio capability and in 1995, it re-launched itself with audio features. All these small steps finally led to our modern day HD-video conferencing capabilities.

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