IDG News Service - Startup Vidyo is now packaging its videoconferencing product for college campuses, which it sees as a natural setting for a system that can bring together multiple participants even on relatively thin network connections.
Vidyo offers videoconferencing based on lightweight software clients, using appliances based on standard rack-mounted servers. It can be delivered from within a customer's own data center or by an outside service provider, such as Google, which uses Vidyo's technology in its Google Chat video feature.
Although Vidyo is capable of delivering high-definition videoconferencing, and the company sells its own high-end room systems, it stands out by being able to offer multipoint sessions without the expensive infrastructure typically required for meetings of many people, analysts said. In addition, users don't need the latest PC nor a high-end Internet connection to join in. A Vidyo customer can also bring in users of other videoconferencing systems based on the H.263 and H.264 standards by using an optional gateway, said Marty Hollander, senior vice president of marketing.
With its new offering, VidyoCampus, universities can introduce this capability to their students, faculty and staff without making any capital investment, Hollander said. Instead, they can buy site licenses with prices based on the number of enrolled students. The smallest, a license for an institution with 5,000 students, costs about US$50,000 per year. The offering is available now.
Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois, has installed many different videoconferencing systems over the years but is now starting to use VidyoCampus, said Morteza Rahimi, vice president of information technology and chief technology officer. The most important benefit of Vidyo is that it's easy for users from Northwestern and their contacts around the world to start up and participate in a session without help from the university's technology staff.
"Where videoconferencing (usually) fails is that I have to somehow get our videoconferencing capabilities tied into somebody else's," Rahimi said. With Vidyo, all the IT staff needs to do is provide the client software and a username and password to users inside or outside the university. Those names and passwords can be cancelled when the user's privileges expire, such as when a student graduates, he said.
"Once they have the client on a laptop, they can come in from anywhere," Rahimi said. Northwestern has used Vidyo for sessions with research associates in China and the U.K., and with colleagues across the main campus in Evanston, Illinois, or on the university's Chicago medical campus. As the system is rolled out to students later this year, they will be able to chat visually with their parents, he said.
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