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On The Road – Integrated Systems Europe

The TANDBERG Boothat ISE 2010

In this first blog entry, I would like to give a brief report from the Integrated Systems Europe show where TANDBERG was an exhibitor.   From the 2nd to 4th  of February at Amsterdam’s prestigious RAI exhibition centre, over 28,000 audiovisual experts from across the region converged to network and trade at what is Europe’s largest dedicated audiovisual show.

The show is affiliated with the internationally renowned infocomm show which takes place in North America every year. Even though the weather was bitterly cold and Amsterdam was unusually blanketed in snow, business was extremely brisk at the show.

For me one of the most impressive things about the show was the size and quality of video displays that are coming onto the market. We had 65 inch screens on our booth and they looked woefully inadequate in comparison with the legions of 100″+ displays. 3-D displays were also in abundance with many vendors showing the latest and greatest active goggle 3D technology. One company which really amazed me was the projector manufacturer Christie which had some absolutely mind blowing projection displays on show.

Christie were also demonstrating ultrahigh resolution 3-D technology with a couple of demonstration clips of the international blockbuster Avatar. It’s not often I see technology that really blows me backwards but these projectors quite literally have to be seen to be believed. It left me thinking how much I would like to see our Telepresence technology connected up to these bad boys…

More to come in my next post, where I’ll be interviewing our Telepresence Solutions R&D team to get their thoughts on what the next few years will bring to the industry.

Video teleconferencing helps heal Haiti

In previous posts on the TANDBERG Public Sector Blog, we’re discussed the benefits of telemedicine and the ways in which video teleconferencing (VTC) can help to provide high-quality healthcare. By delivering doctors and specialists to the patient via video, diagnosis and treatment can begin much more quickly, and the need to move a patient to the location of a needed specialist can be eliminated completely.

In addition to rural and geographically remote areas, we’ve discussed the locations of disasters and crisis as places where telehealth solutions delivered via VTC could have a significant impact on saving lives. By delivering doctors and other medical professionals via video, rescue and relief workers can vastly increase the number of medical professionals available to victims without forcing medical personnel to make prolonged personal and financial sacrifices.

An incredible example of how VTC can help deliver medical care in areas affected by disaster is what is currently happening in Haiti, where a January earthquake killed over 100,000 people and destroyed the homes of more than 2 million people.

Utilizing a satellite connection, doctors in Haiti are now able to consult with specialists in the United States in real-time, via video. This has allowed medical professionals at the University of Miami’s tent hospital in Port-Au-Prince to seek the help of specialists in Miami and other medical centers in the United States.

TANDBERG believes strongly in VTC’s ability to help disaster victims, and we’re proud that our technology is being used in the relief effort in Haiti. VTC is breaking down the walls between the victims of disasters and the care they need. That’s a new way of caring, and TANDBERG is proud to be leading the way, in Haiti and around the world.

Legal executives push video conferencing to the forefront of strategic planning

Earlier this month, the Annual Legal CIO and CTO Forum brought together technical executives from top law firms around the country to discuss new trends in the legal industry and share best practices. One hot topic was how video conferencing has become integral to technical planning. In fact, one presenter noted that video conferencing is a “game changing technology.”

Why Video?
One panelist classified telepresence and video conferencing among the “Top 3 Technology Trends.”  Why? Simply put, in this era of cost cutting and rapid decision making, it has the ability to instantly bring people together face-to-face no matter where they are at a fraction of the money and time spent traveling. In the legal industry, this is critical as it allows for more face time with more clients, which translates to billable hours.
Video technology is also much easier to implement and use than even a few years ago, making it more attractive to a broader audience. Moreover, decreased cost for bandwidth has enabled law firms to increase their investment in infrastructure, so their networks are ready to support high-quality video conferencing and telepresence across the organization. This helps drive greater collaboration without increasing costs, vital to competing in the changing industry landscape.

Why Now?
In addition to providing competitive advantage, several new trends in the legal industry are driving the need for video conferencing’s cost-effective, face-to-face communication, including:

  1. Consolidation of large law firms – A recent survey indicated that respondents expect there will be an increase in merger activity in the coming year.
  2. Globalization of legal services and firms – In an effort to serve large, transnational companies, law firms are globalizing their practice.  As a result, mega law firms are emerging with several thousand professionals in dozens of countries.
  3. Push for more efficiency – To combat the price/value gap and remain profitable, law firms must become more efficient.
  4. Need to be untethered – Just like the business world as a whole, attorneys and legal personnel need to be able to conduct their business regardless of their location.

As Lumen Legal President and CEO David Galbenksi wrote in a recent article, “Law firms will need to evolve how they deliver service to their clients.  They’ll need to discover how they can do it faster, better, and how to make it less expensive…And, law firms will need to change with the times—or wait until the market forces them to change.”

Video conferencing and telepresence can help law firms do all of these things so they can get ahead of the curve.

Proposed bill would give tech lift to community colleges

The Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund was designed to help schools and libraries in the United States with discounts and funds to help acquire broadband access and telecommunications technology and equipment. The discounts are relative to the poverty level of the area, and are intended to help schools in areas of high poverty level the playing field and offer the same technologies that are available to other students across America.

Now, a new bill introduced in the United States House of Representatives called the “E-Rate 2.0 Act of 2010,” would add a five-year, $750 million broadband pilot program for community colleges and head start programs.

With the Obama Administration’s focus on improving our education systems, and specifically community colleges, this concept can truly go a long way in making an affordable, quality higher education available to students who may find a four-year institution of higher education out of their financial reach.

The fact is, increased broadband availability at community colleges and other educational institutions is the key to many high-bandwidth, but amazingly effective educational tools. One of those tools is video teleconferencing (VTC).

VTC can increase broadband adoption and level the playing field for community college students by bringing them previously unavailable educational opportunities, all while saving money and resources. Community colleges could share professors with larger colleges and universities. Also, additional courses could be offered that previously were unavailable due to a lack of knowledgeable teachers by having them teach from a distance via VTC.

The House bill introduced by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) may be far from being passed, but it definitely seems to have potential for improving America’s community colleges and bringing a high quality, affordable higher education to American students. The increased adoption of broadband and the implementation of advanced technologies like VTC will help break down the walls between students and a bright future and career. Now that’s a new way of teaching…and learning.

Delivering Solutions to Language Barriers

A recent article in ITnews discussed how Interpreterline, a Victorian translation firm, has started couriering video conferencing kits in unbranded boxes to schools and at least one regional community health service center to save on interpreters’ travel costs. Interpreterline’s chief Ismail Akinci said the company had toyed with the concept because there was a finite source of interpreters available for some languages in Australia. Also, the cost to send an interpreter to some locations in Australia was three times more than the professional service being delivered and was dependent on the interpreter having time to travel in the first place.

They turned to video conferencing because it could support three people in conversation, necessary so the interpreter can interject when they have enough to translate. Now, for just $30 Interpreterline is able to ship a video conferencing kit, the TANDBERG E20 is their unit of choice, to any place the company’s services are needed. This cuts back on the extra time, money, and carbon emissions required to fly an interpreter to be there in person.

With the reduction in both the size and cost of video conferencing products, it’s no wonder that businesses of all sizes and industries are finding new and creative ways to take advantage of all that visual communication has to offer.

One of our previous blog posts mentioned a USA Today article which notes that airlines and hotels are “spooked,” as more companies continue to invest in technology. Interpreterline is a prime example of why they should be; with their creative approach to resource allocation the interpreters are able to be in more places at once without the use and costs of airlines or hotels.

How has your company taken advantage of smaller sized video conferencing devices?