Video conferencing is a tool that is now being used frequently in the workplace. Helping to connect people quickly and easily, video conferencing offers employers and employees the opportunity to communicate more efficiently and directly, saving time and money. By learning to use and operate a video conferencing system, you can really improve the way you work and what you achieve. So if you want to increase your job skills or those of your employees, you may be interested in learning a little about video conferencing.
What is Video Conferencing?
Video conferencing is a simple but effective way to connect people who are in different physical locations. It is very similar to a phone call, only it allows you to see, hear, and exchange data with a person (or persons) all at one time. Through the use of video, audio, and computer technology, video conferencing allows two or more people to see and talk to one another without having to meet in the same physical space. Video conferencing works particularly well in connecting small and large groups of people located all over the world.
Types of Video Conferencing
There are two main types of video conferencing:
- Point-to Point video conferencing involves real time communication between multiple people in two different locations.
- Multipoint video conferencing involves real time communication between various people in three or more different locations.
Reasons for Using Video Conferencing?
A number of companies, both large and small, like to take advantage of video conferencing for a variety of reasons. Video conferencing can offer you and your business a number of advantages, including:
- the ability to coordinate presentations and work projects ahead of time.
- the ability to transmit information in an easy-to-understand, visual way.
- the ability to communicate with those who are located in a different physical space.
- the chance to get input from employees immediately.
- the chance to improve your presentation and communication skills, or those of your workers.
How Does Video Conferencing Work?
Though video conferencing may sound pretty complicated, it is actually a fairly simple process, once you get familiar with the technology thatís involved. Imagine yourself conducting a "visual" phone call, in which you can see, talk to, and exchange information with all sorts of people at one specific time.
Video Conferencing Networks
The real key to video conferencing is having a way to connect the people who need to conference with one another. This is typically done through a computer network. These networks operate by linking all the participants in the video conference with one another, or to a central system that reflects all the information that participants are contributing. By using these networks, companies can connect dozens of people up to one video conference.
There are two main types of networks used in video conferencing:
- ISDN: ISDN networks, or integrated services digital networks, work to connect people through a phone line. This phone line compresses data, allowing audio, video, and print data to be sent to networked computers simultaneously. ISDN networks are of very high quality and can allow groups of people to communicate much faster than a regular modem.
- IP: IP, or internet protocol networks, allow people to communicate by using a specific "computer address." Participants merely type in a specific IP address, and they can communicate with their fellow video conferencers.
Audio and Visual Technology
Another major component of video conferencing is the audio and visual equipment that helps to relay your voice, your image, and your data to other participants in the conference. The basic equipment required for a video conference includes:
- a television or computer monitor (to receive images)
- a video camera or web camera (to send images)
- a microphone (to send audio)
- loudspeakers (to receive audio)
Types of Video Conferencing Systems
There are two main types of video conferencing systems. Depending upon your needs or those of your employees, one type may be more suitable for you.
Dedicated videoconferencing systems work to streamline the video conferencing process by incorporating all necessary equipment into one piece of hardware. This one system includes the network, audio, and visual components needed for a video conference. Small, portable systems are available for single users, or large, non-portable systems are available for companies with more diverse needs. Be aware that the prices of dedicated systems vary widely, depending upon their capabilities. Prices usually begin at around $5, 000 per user.
Desktop systems can be created by adding on specific components to your computer workstation. By adding video conferencing tools like a video camera, loudspeakers, and a microphone, you can create your own basic video conferencing system for a very reasonable price. A wide range of different peripherals are available from various manufacturers worldwide.