Video conferencing becoming more popular due to recession

According to Wikipedia 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. It has also been called visual collaboration and is a type of groupware. It differs from videophone in that it is designed to serve a conference rather than individuals.
For various reasons such as intimacy and cost the videophone function on the cell phone has not become that popular whereas two-way video calls (e.g. Skype) over the Internet have. To have a group of people discussing matters over a video conference used to be more like a nice idea but because of narrow bandwidth and poor applications it was not widely implemented.

The meatspace is still considered as the locus authenticus for important discussion and decision-making but thanks to the recession and developing technology, cyberspace is becoming more attractive as the place to meet. Many organizations are already using applications such as ConnectPro but for a more natural experience with a bigger group you have to spend big bucks.

This morning, the radio news reported how the development of technology has made conferencing easy and smooth. Plus it saves money, time and environment. The head of communication of Telia-Sonera, a Finno-Swedish company, talked about the new telepresence system that, although being a very expensive one (a few hundred K in euros), had earned back the costs of its implementation in about 7 months. Over 500 trips between Helsinki and Stockholm were replaced by a video conference. During the first year a whopping 550.000 € was saved in flight tickets alone.

However, there are some prerequisites to the comfortable and "natural" use of video conference. The two conference rooms have to be equally furnished and have similar acoustics so that the illusion of presence is not shattered by the medium. Also, the screens have to be high definition and present the participants in real size. I would also add that the two conferencing parties would have to have relatively long tradition of cooperation so that the lack of intimacy would be compensated by the established familiarity of the parties. Or, the subject matter should not be of such importance that it would require deep involvement and interpreting subtle expressions of the participants. In other words, the users should be more or less old acquaintances or they should discuss less important day-to-day matters.

Although the new technology is cost-effective, the cost is also a problem as only big multinational companies can invest in high quality videoconferencing. Another choice, as also mentioned in the news report, is to rent the equipment.
In Finland, Technopolis, a company providing "optimal environment for high tech companies," is renting their conference rooms in eight cities. One hour of video conferencing costs 150 to 500 euros depending on the size of the conference space. Sound expensive? Obviously it depends on whether you are calling your mom to show your new pair of pants or having two armies of lawyers in two different continents discuss a million-dollar business deal. Here you can even calculate the cost-effectiveness of video conferencing yourself.

It's quite obvious to predict that the use of high-quality video conference applications will become cheaper and more wide-spread in the future and thus two-way meetings will be more commonly held virtually. The concept of the technology is quite simple and easy to implement.
What about more massive conferences where hundreds of people go around forming smaller groups and where individuals meet each other? How could the technology solve the problem of including vast spaces and mobile people? Today, the narrow bandwidth is the problem and that's why the closest thing is a more "artificial" conference space such as Second Life with more restricted data environment and simplified symbolic presentations of participants (avatars).
Perhaps in the future the terabyte-scale bandwidths, 3D-modelling techniques and high-precision GPSs will give me a chance to take part in a conference and have a close-to-meatspace experience of a conference in, say, Seoul just by walking around in my office in Jyväskylä, Finland.
Pic sources (from top down): Skype, History of the Button, Technopolis, Cisco.


  1. I agree with you video conferencing become much popular among the people, because everyone wants to save its time and money. pin points shared by you. keep it up.

  2. People prefer to talk face to face and broadband penetration has facilitated video and web conferencing