Another low-cost HD video system introduced today is the latest sign that 2010 will be spent pushing megaprecise video tech into our businesses and homes. To me that's all very nice, spending an inordinate amount of time overseas, but the reality is that before any HD video play has much play at home or work, interoperability is going to have to be addressed. There's good news and bad news on that front.
The VidyoRoom HD-220 prices up to $30,000 according to InformationWeek. An entire room will run ".,.. $25,000 to $30,000 when high-definition cameras and screens, high-quality audio, and the traffic-shaping Vidyo router are factored in. " By contrast a Cisco telepresence system can run $250,000.
Similar introductions have been made by other video conferencing players. Two years ago, LifeSize (now a division of Logitech), introduced the LifeSize Room 200 with pricing starting at $16,999. Polycom announced the Polycom HDX 6000 in June of last year with a price tag of under $5,999.
There are differences of course. Vidyo runs at 60 frames per second. The HDX 6000 runs at 30 FPS. The 200 runs at both speeds. The Vidyo system has the ability to encode 720p and 1080p videoconferencing streams, all can do 720 some can go to 1080.
All very nice, but the big issue here is compatibility. A video system that connects with one or two other offices is far less useful than one that interopertes with every webcam on every desk. On this score, LifeSize had it right with the Passport system, which will interoperate with Skype video, eventually.
What's still needed is a way to coordinate all of the different high-end video system. It's not just a matter of supporting the h.323 video either. Vidyo, for example, mucks around with the video stream to eliminate the MCU.
"Vidyo doesn't require an MCU. Instead, it wraps proprietary technology around video encoded with the new Scalable Video Coding standard, which greatly increases error correction and improves the end product, doing away with the blips and artifacts that are all too common in videoconferences and especially in online video. "
Then there's having to coordinate all of the other components that are possible in a video conference - screen display, acoustical mapping, screen display and the like. Vendors have different ways of implementing and then managing these exchanges.
Cisco says the answer is to adopt its Telpresence Interoperability Protocol (TIP) announced last fall. In good Cisco fashion, TIP is due to be released to a standards body for development. It's hard to imagine HP, Teliris, HP, Telris, Vidyo, Polycom, Lifesize and even Tandberg (soon to be Cisco) adopting TIP as it stands today. Give them few months of battling, haggling and arguing and they'll adopt a spec that's very similar - or create a competing one.