The history of video conferencing is a long and intriguing one. Just like most complex technologies, it went through numerous phases in fits and starts. Today, this type of business communication has become the norm.
So how did video conferencing evolve? Here’s a brief overview:
The Early History of Video Conferencing
The first Picturephone test system was developed in 1956. The system designed by AТ&T was capable of transmitting one image per several seconds. A more advanced model was presented in 1964 but people were unhappy with the bulkiness of the equipment and the small size of the image.
The commercial Picturephone service was launched in 1970. Though AT&T predicted incredible success for the system, it was still too bulky and too expensive to be accepted by the general consumer.
The video conference possibility became popular only after the development of the computer, the enhancement of resolution, graphics and video communication functionality.
Video Conferencing Comes to the Commercial Market
The first video conferencing breakthrough was made in the early 1980s. Compression Labs was the company that introduced its commercial video conferencing product in 1982. The product, however, was tremendously expensive and it required vast resources to function properly.
PictureTel started rivaling Compression Labs after announcing the launch of yet another video conference system in 1986. In just a few years, the price of the technology decreased dramatically from the 250,000 dollars that Compression Labs demanded for its product to only 80,000 dollars.
Apart from these systems, several other companies tried to launch video conference possibilities that were much more affordable and created especially for household usage. A few key developments in the technology were also completed for military purposes.
Technical advances and the prominence of the internet made video conferencing a much more viable possibility in the 1990s. The first personal computer-based video conference system was introduced in 1991. Its creator was IBM. PicTel was a black and white communication platform but its cost was quite low in comparison to prior experiments.
A revolutionary breakthrough was made several months later during the same year. DARTnet managed to connect a transcontinental IP network. More than 12 sites in the US and the UK were connected successfully. DARTnet was later on renamed to CAIRN system and it still exists today.
New Developments: Video Conferencing Today
The Internet and the affordability of the technology led to the quick evolution of the video conferencing field. Today, it is widely accessible and used by many businesses, institutions and organizations that need communication simplicity and the ability to connect people at several locations in a simple, practical and affordable way.
High speed Internet access became affordable in many locations across the globe by 2003. The general buyer got access to affordable web cameras, microphones and other sound equipment. A number of free software possibilities came in existence, taking digital video communication to the next level.
Cloud-based solutions have boosted the practicality of online conferencing even further. The cost decreased noticeably and some of the previously existing restrictions disappeared through the use of cloud-based technology.
The use of solutions like Blue Jeans Network video conferencing decreased the price of the technology by nearly 75% compared to hardware-based solutions.
The Future of Video Conferencing
Mobile and social will be determining for the future of video conferencing. Just a couple of years ago, people needed to sit in front of a computer for video communication to take place. Today, such digital encounters happen on-the-fly; tablets and smartphones have changed the rules of the game and boosted the mobility of online conferences.
The Facebook generation’s attitude towards online communication are having a huge impact on technology use and the rapid evolution of the sector.
As the workplace also evolves, so do the methods of communicating with partners, answering customer inquiries, organizing seminars, and even conducting job interviews. The affordability and general availability of these systems is already expanding beyond the high-level corporate circles and simplifying everyday-communications.
Here’s the bottom line: According to Infonetics, the video conferencing market will grow to 5.4 billion dollars by 2015 — and the market’s fastest growing segment is the videophone. These trends clearly indicate that the future of video conferencing and the important role it’s going to play in the years to come.
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