Video conferencing equipment enables meeting participants at different locations to communicate via two-way video with simultaneous audio transmissions. Applications include business meetings, distance learning, sales and marketing, medical diagnostics, public safety, and research and development (R&D). By enabling participants to interact without physically meeting in the same location, video conferencing equipment can help businesses and other organizations to reduce the costs associated with travel. Benefits include increased productivity, greater worker satisfaction through better work-home balance, and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
Video conferencing equipment is designed to transmit video and audio between two or more locations via the Internet, public telephone lines, or a radio link. Public Internet connections cost less, but are not as reliable as private Internet Protocol (IP) networks. In some cases, businesses and organizations with existing IP networks may upgrade to video over IP (VoIP). Integrated services digital network (ISDN) is another choice. ISDN is a telephone-based network that uses dedicated phone lines. Portable, wireless video conferencing equipment that uses radio frequency (RF) communications is also available.
Types of Video Conferencing Equipment
Video conferencing equipment includes cameras, microphones, monitors, speakers, and codecs. Cameras and microphones capture images and sounds at each location. Codecs convert this video and audio into digital signals. The data is then compressed and sent over public or private networks. Codecs on the receiving end decompress the signals and send pictures to a monitor and sounds to a speaker. Often, these basic components of a video conferencing system are integrated with external devices, digital signage, and software applications. End-to-end solutions may also use immersive telepresence, multi-purpose systems or rooms, centralized management and scheduling tools, multipoint control units (MCUs), all control, and media services.
Selecting Video Conferencing Equipment
Selecting video conferencing equipment requires an analysis of application requirements. Customers should consider whether users will interact from desks, conference rooms, or home offices; communicate with suppliers, partners, or other personnel outside the organization; or need to record meetings or video calls. Depending on the application, video conferencing equipment and systems may be integrated with other communications tools such as instant messaging (IM) applications, scheduling software, IP phones, and third-generation (3G) or fourth-generation (4G) mobile phones. Costs, bandwidth requirements, network availability, and network reliability are also important to consider.