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Video Conferencing

Skype for Windows Phone 8 Gets HD First & More Feature Love

March 19, 2013

Today, Skype released an update for the Skype for Windows Phone 8 Preview, version 2.4, which for the first time ever adds HD video calling to a mobile version of Skype. This version leverages the hardware acceleration capability of Windows Phone 8 to enable the HD video experience.

It offers VGA video (640x480) on lower end handsets and 720P HD on higher-end devices including the Nokia Lumia 920, HTC 8X and Samsung Ativ S. Importantly, the app can intelligently determines the best quality available based on the speed of your connection. They also added People Hub integration, landscape mode for calls, and the ability to switch between front and back cameras.


Finally, the Microsoft acquisition of Skype appears to be paying dividends. Get the updated version now from Windows Phone Store.




Add-on Makes Microsoft Lync Feature-Complete to Compete with PBXs

January 31, 2013


Yesterday, at ITEXPO I met with some representatives from Bressner, a German-based company with some interesting add-ons for Microsoft Lync. Now targeting the U.S. (English website) their Lync add-ons add some powerful features to Microsoft Lync that help make Lync have feature-parity with PBXs, allowing enterprises to use Lync as a PBX replacement with no compromise.

Bressner's Dr. Klaus Z√ľnkler, Principal Solutions Architect and Mitch Friend discussed three of their Lync products. The first was FonComfort, which is designed to fill the feature-gap in Microsoft Lync. One of those feature-gap fillers is "true busy" so the caller doesn't have to pay for the call if you're already on another call. I asked Klaus and Mitch why this was a popular feature since typically a call would drop to voicemail if you were on a call or unavailable and they said this "true busy" feature was more popular in Europe due to a cultural thing.


Surf Communications Solutions Aims to Slay the Video Giant

January 30, 2013

Video conferencing has held promise for many years - dating back to the 1964 AT&T Picturephone, but now has the time finally arrived for video conferencing to take off? The simple answer is "yes", but it's way more complicated than that. Yes, standards like SIP and H.264 have made video interoperability between endpoints less of an issue, but there are other issues to consider. For instance, Polycom, Cisco, Avaya, and LifeSize have very expensive MCUs for their in-room conferencing systems.

WebRTC Test Demo Fun

January 21, 2013

WebRTC is pretty cool, allowing you to perform VoIP and video conferencing all within a browser. I thought it would be cool to demo some WebRTC code here leveraging getUserMedia, an API that began as part of HTML5 and was split off into the W3C WebRTC specification suite. It allows JavaScript access to a device's cameras and microphones to enable in-browser VoIP and video-conferencing. Further, with HTML5 it's easy to apply cool video filters (think Instagram) on-the-fly while in a video conference.

So without further adeiu, let's try "Self View" Camera on your WebRTC-enabled browser - Google Chrome, Opera, and Firefox (nightly build only) all support WebRTC, though not Internet Explorer (yet).

Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam Review

January 3, 2013

The Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam is an innovative product marking a trend away from high-end in-room video conferencing systems toward smaller, inexpensive video systems that leverage desktop PCs or laptops, along with inexpensive USB cameras. These USB cameras often have the same if not better optics than higher-end video conferencing camera models but at a fraction of the cost.

The Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam actually fills a niche between large room conferencing systems and computer webcams, offering a plug-and-play videoconferencing system that sports a Carl Zeiss lens, 1080p HD video, 30 fps, high-quality omni-directional microphone/speakerphone with a range of 8 feet, and the ability to pan, tilt, and zoom from the unit itself or the included remote control. It uses UVC H.264 so no driver installation is needed on PCs or Macs to get up and running.

I tested the BCC950 ConferenceCam on a Windows 8 x64 desktop PC with an Intel i7 3.07Ghz processor and 16GB RAM. I was very impressed with the feature-set and performance.



Skype vs. Facebook - How WebRTC Will Turn Friends into Enemies

December 27, 2012


Facebook and Skype currently enjoy a friendly relationship that all started back in 2011 when Facebook collaborated with Skype to integrate these two popular social networks. They then deepened their partnership by offering direct Facebook video calling. But I always wondered why Facebook didn't offer their own VoIP service. They own the largest social network in the world and could crush Skype if they so chose.

Asterisk 11 - What's New! [VIDEO]

October 26, 2012


At AstriCon we finally heard about the new features in Asterisk 11. One of the most exciting features is WebRTC, which I wrote about earlier, including videos. On the last day of AstriCon, four members of the Asterisk team got on stage in front of hundreds of AstriCon attendees and unveiled what's new in Asterisk 11, including insights as to how and why they added these particular features. One new feature is a unique Call IDs record associated to each and every call to enable powerful Call ID logging.

WebRTC Demo Plus WebRTC Asterisk Integration

October 24, 2012

At AstriCon at sat in a jam-packed session on WebRTC, which featured Digium's Joshua Colp and Voxeo Labs / Tropo's Tim Panton. The talk explained how WebRTC is going to change the communications landscape, but more than that they did an actual demo showing a browser-based VoIP call to a WebRTC-enabled Tropo application. The source code was ridiculously short and simple, which means a lot of the complexity has been modularized into the WebRTC spec. I captured the video using my iPhone 4S in 3 video segments.

Skype for Windows 8 Launches Simultaneously with Windows 8 & Microsoft Surface

October 22, 2012


I predicted back in August, "I wouldn't be surprised though if this [Skype for Windows 8] simultaneously launches the same day as the Windows 8 Surface tablet - it certainly would be one of the first apps I'd try out on the new tablet. "

Well, looks like I was right. Microsoft is releasing Skype for Windows 8 on the same date that Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface tablet launches. I gave an early preview of the Skype for Windows app, which you can check out.



Looking at Microsoft's promotional video (below) it appears to show a later, more refined version than the beta I checked out.






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