What do you mean by video conferencing?
Video conferencing is a technology available online that helps users have video communication over the internet. Irrespective of their location, users can have face-to-face audio and video conversation with someone without travelling to a single location.
The simplest video conferencing definition allows the transfer of text and static images between two locations. Still, in the more advanced form, it allows for the transfer of high-definition video and audio between multiple locations at a time.
Conferencing means participating in meetings or conferences. Adding video to the term provides a technology to hold meetings with audio and video communication between two or more participants simultaneously regardless of their location.
A video conference is also known as video teleconference or video telephony. Teleconference definition is a conference using telecommunication devices with attendees at different locations.
In the initial stage, only large businesses used online conferences for video calls to a client or a partner or for commencing meetings with employees or board members located at remote locations. Over time video conferencing solutions have seen a lot of growth and are now accessible to anyone for free or at a price.
Ever since the pandemic hit, more people have become aware of online video conferences, with even small-scale businesses and enterprises using them to keep in touch with their employees and continue their operations with work from home option.
Let us delve further into this topic to better explain video conferencing, how it works, its features, and other aspects.
What are the basic video conference tools or components?
The basic tools required for video conferencing are:
- Stable and high-speed internet connection
- Display for a video like a monitor or a laptop\
- Peripherals like microphone webcam, speaker, headset, and others
- A processing unit like a computer
- Video conferencing app or software
How does video conferencing work?
Video conferencing uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to allow video and audio communication between two or more users over the internet. For transferring voice and visual data over the internet, video conferencing utilises codec (coder-decoder) algorithms.
- Coding or data compression
The camera captures the video signals during video conferencing, and the microphone captures audio signals. VoIP transforms these signals into data packets that can be sent over the internet. This is the process of coding the data.
- Decoding or data transfer and decompression
The data packets transformed by the VoIP are sent over the network. When they reach their destination, they are again transformed into audio and video signals for the other participant to see and hear. This process is the decoding of data.
What are the main features of Video Conferencing?
Video conferencing offers several different features which enhance the experience of online meetings. Some of the main features of video conferencing that you need to look out for a while choosing a video conferencing service are:
- High-quality Video
Having a high-quality video is one of the main features that Video conferencing solutions need. The new generation video conferencing systems, cameras, and displays support 4K resolution. The video conferencing solution also needs to support 4K resolution for high-quality video for a better video conferencing experience.
- Screen sharing
Screen sharing is a feature of video conferencing that allows any participant in the meeting to share their computer screen. Sharing their screen allows them to share presentations, documents, or images with all the participants during an ongoing video call. Since everyone participating in the meeting can see the screen, they can share ideas and decide. Some video conferencing solutions allow only the host of the meeting to share their screen, while some allow any participants to do so.
- Remote Management
Another important feature that a video conferencing solution must have is remote or central management. With remote management, it is possible to update or change any software or set from a central location without visiting every system. It is best for an organisation with multiple video conferencing systems in different locations or employees who are working remotely.
- Call Recording
Recording the video meetings for streaming later is important. This helps in documenting the meeting if required, and if anyone misses the meeting, they can catch up with the discussion.
A chat box feature allows participants to raise questions or queries without interrupting the ongoing discussion. Many video conferencing solutions allow private and group chat options.
- Auto Framing
This is one of the advanced features of video conferencing. It sets the camera view automatically so that everyone in a room is included in the frame. Doing so manually can take up a lot of time.
Auto framing feature can zoom in and out or adjust the camera for the best view if someone enters or exits the meeting room.
- Simultaneous Annotation
While screen sharing, some video conferencing solutions allow for annotation simultaneously for explaining something. Only the host can annotate, in some systems while some systems allow simultaneous annotation from all participants.
Sharing of files and screens is an important feature of video conferencing. It allows a team to have access to all the documents, and by sharing the screen, they can focus on the part which is being discussed. It allows them to work efficiently and develop better ideas and solutions while having discussions.
- Device switching
Switching between devices with another feature that allows a participant to switch devices with an ongoing meeting without disrupting.
- Speaker Tracking
Another feature of video conferencing should be automatic speaker tracking. It allows other participants to know who is speaking and focus on their body language to better understand the information.
- Noise Cancellation
Noise cancellation feature of video conferencing blocks any unwanted and distracting sounds like typing on a keyboard, shuffling of papers, or other background noises. People have trouble focusing their attention on meetings if they are distracted by sounds during video calls.
- Acoustic Fence
Acoustic fence feature in video conferencing creates a virtual boundary using microphones around the meeting area, which keeps out and blocks any sound or noise from outside the fence. It helps reduce background noises like machine noises or co-workers chatting.
- Seamless Integration
There are multiple technologies used by Video conferencing solutions in an enterprise or company. Seamless integration allows for sharing data between multiple technologies without any trouble. For example, Microsoft teams are compatible with all other Microsoft apps and have seamless integration. Google meet offers seamless integration with all other Google apps and Google drive.
The Whiteboard feature in video conferencing allows sharing ideas using a drawing or diagram during an ongoing meeting.
There is also a whiteboard camera feature to connect to an existing whiteboard to share the content with all the participants. This is beneficial for online classes.
Modes of Video Conferencing
There are two different modes of video conferencing.
- Point Video conferencing
In point-to-point video conferencing, video communication happens between only two participants at a time, and they can simultaneously hear and see each other in real-time. This type of video conferencing is best suitable for talking to someone personally.
- Multipoint Video Conferencing
In multipoint video conferencing, video communication happens between more than two participants at a time. This type of video conferencing is suitable for having group discussions.
Some of the examples of multipoint video conferencing are webinars and team meetings.
Types of Video conferencing
Video conferencing can be classified into different types based on several factors and their uses
Depending on the number of video conferencing participants, it can be classified into four different types. Let's take a look at them.
- Personal or 1:1 video conferencing
One of the most common ways to use video conferencing is personal or one on one video calls. The most common use of this type of video conferencing is connecting with the remote employee or conducting one-on-one interviews. An employer can use one on one video conferencing to interview a candidate to save travel costs and time. Unlike audio calls, video conferencing has the advantage of seeing the other person. Posture, facial expressions, gestures are some determining factors of a person's credibility.
- Small rooms or Internal team video conferencing
Another type of video conferencing is small rooms or team meetings held between team members. This type of video conferencing is done in companies with remote employees to keep all the team members in a loop while working on any project or task. Having video conversations with each employee in a team allows for a better connection between team members. It also allows every team member to keep their ideas forward in front of the whole Team.
- Mid-sized or external video conferencing.
A video conferencing between a business and client can be placed under the external video conferencing. It is clear that for a successful business, it is important to talk to a prospective or existing client face to face. A mid-sized video conferencing solution allows for meeting virtually with clients and customers when meeting them in person is impossible. Call centers with live video chat options are another industry using external video conferencing.
- Large-sized video conferencing
Large-sized video conferencing happens in large meeting rooms with several employees at once. These meetings keep the employees up to date with all that's happening in the company.
Another form of classification of video conferencing can be done based on the hardware and software.
- Telepresence video conferencing
Telepresence video conferencing is designed to make every participant feel like they are attending the meeting in person and not through a computer system. With multiple monitors and screens and cameras at eye level, all participants appeared to be sitting around the same table in a single room during video conferencing.
- Integrated Video Conferencing
All the equipment, be it codec or hardware, are at a centralised location in integrated video conferencing. All the cameras, peripherals, and displays are at the main conference location. This type of video conferencing is used mostly in classroom or boardroom conferences.
- Desktop video conferencing
Desktop video conferencing systems have all the required software and the hardware built in a laptop or a computer. There are two different options for desktop video conferencing. One is a video conferencing software on your desktop, and the second is a hardware codec that acts as a screen or monitor.
This allows users to participate in a video conference while they are mobile. It is also the most common video conferencing for regular office employees.
- Service-based video conferencing
A service provider offers service-based video conferencing who handles all the network setup controls. Users only have to pay for the service, and the service provider does the management. The user doesn't have to deal with the technicalities, and it saves a lot of their time.
Advantages and benefits of using video conferencing
Using video conferencing has a lot of advantages and benefits. Let us take a look at some of them.
- Reliable communication
With audio conversation, people often have trouble retaining and understanding the information. With video conferencing, attendees' chances of retaining the information discussed in the meeting are higher. Looking at someone while talking to them allows people to understand them better. Visual communication allows them to interpret the gesture posture and facial expressions of the other person, which also helps determine the person's credibility.
- Improved work efficiency
Today video conferencing software has many features that allow the transfer of files, group chats, screen sharing, and others. All these features allow every team member to be aware of all the decisions being made and be a part of them. It improves their work efficiency.
- Cost and time-efficient
Using video conferencing is time and cost-efficient as the goal for having face-to-face meetings with someone can easily be achieved by video conferencing. Meetings used to take a lot of time and cost. For job interviews, candidates now don't have to travel to a certain location at a certain time, saving a lot of time and money. They can face an interview while sitting in the safety of their own home.
Companies or organisations often have to arrange meetings with clients and partners, and they have to arrange for flight tickets, accommodation, fooding and booking a meeting space in some cases. With video conferencing, every client and partner can attend a meeting virtually without needing to travel to someplace.
- Organised meetings
Commencing meetings using video conferencing makes it easier to have a well-organised and structured meeting. A video conference's starting and ending times are predefined, which increases the overall productivity of a meeting. Participants don't have time to waste and utilise the available time.
- Easy management
Teams don't have to worry about managing several different communication tools by using video conferencing. With the video conferencing service available online, which the service provider manages, the teams can concentrate on their task instead of worrying about managing all the peripherals and connections.
- Made remote working possible
With the help of video conferencing, businesses can now work without even owning a single physical office. All the staff can work remotely without needing to shift to different locations. Using video conferencing, all the employees in a team can communicate with each other and conduct meetings to discuss any important project using any device
Disadvantages of Video Conferencing
Like with every other technology, video conferencing has some disadvantages; let's look at them.
- Lack of personalization
The main disadvantage of video conferencing is the lack of personalization. Some meetings need to be done in person to get better results. Communicating using video conferencing is okay if done occasionally, but it can become isolating. Humans need to meet and interact with other humans for their proper mental and physical well-being.
Also, if the network connection is poor, you might have trouble understanding another person's body language when the video or audio is distorted. One solution to this problem is a hybrid work culture where employees can work remotely but have to come to the office once a week to attend any important meeting.
- Technical problems
As with any other technical system, developing some technical problems in your video conferencing technology is possible. Be it hardware software on a network failure; it can cause trouble with video conferencing. If you don't know the technical aspect of video conferencing and don't get technical support on time, you might miss an important meeting.
- Time zone problems
Another problem with video conferencing arises when you have to attend meetings with people living in different time zones. This means you have to compromise and attend meetings late at night or early morning.
- High initial setup cost
While the initial setup cost for video conferencing is not much for big companies and enterprises, it can cause a dent in the budget of small businesses. One solution for this problem can be using the basic features of video conferencing, which is available at reasonable pricing.
Staring at a computer screen for work already takes a toll on a person's body. Now, with online meetings, screen time has increased, and it can get tiring for people. Also, with video conferencing, commencing meetings have become more simple, which means there is a high chance of overdoing it. People often have to attend meetings for information that could have been easily shared in the mail.
When compared to the advantages of video conferencing, the disadvantages are not much, and people make peace with it with the convenience video conferencing offers.
Web conferencing solutions comparison
When having meetings in person is not possible, then web video conferencing is one of the best available solutions. But one thing that every user should keep in mind is that not all video conferencing platforms are equal, and some of them may have features that others lack, but they might be more costly.
There are a lot of web video conferencing solutions available in the market. Some of the best online meeting platforms are:
- WebEx by Cisco
Probably one of the best web video conferencing and the most expensive one too, WebEx by Cisco comes with a simplified front end. It comes with AI, which can automate the common tasks related to meetings so that the users can focus on their meetings. It also features transcription for the meetings in real-time with word accuracy making even hearing-impaired participants understand the meeting. It also allows recording of the meetings on the cloud. However, cloud storage is limited to just ten GB of space.
- Zoom meetings
One of the best parts about the Zoom video conferencing app is that using it for basic video conferencing is free for up to 100 participants. This is beneficial for small businesses that don't have the budget for buying video conferencing solutions. Zoom meetings are easy to use, and they have a track record of providing technical support in record time. If you choose any paid plan, it offers some of the best features available with video conferencing.
One of the main problems with zoom meetings is security and privacy concerns. There have been some cases like zoom bombings where an unauthorized participant can join any zoom meeting and share explicit content with all the participants.
- Google Meet
It is the best online conference platform that offers seamless integration with all Google apps. However, to use it to its full potential, you will have to pay for a subscription to Google workspace.
For the basic video conferencing use, it is free, which makes it one of the best choices for small-scale businesses.
The recording of the video conferencing saves to Google drive. Also, it is quite easy to integrate this app with Google apps and workspace.
Since this Video conferencing solution is quite new, it lacks some of the features like transcription, virtual meeting assistant, and remote control. You also need to pay for the Google workspace subscription if you want to use all the features of Google meet.
- Intermedia Any meeting
Intermedia Any meeting offers great video quality during video conferences at a reasonable price. It allows more than 200 participants to connect to a meeting.
You can use this video conferencing on a web browser and share your screen with it. Also, it can optimise the video feed for all devices simultaneously. It also includes a whiteboard feature if a participant needs to discuss something using a drawing, and there is also an automatic transcription feature which is very beneficial for hearing impaired persons.
One of the main problems with this Video conferencing solution is that if someone needs to use the webinar feature, then they need to pay for it separately.
- Microsoft Teams
Microsoft teams is one of the best online meeting platforms for someone using Microsoft Office apps. The best part with this Video conferencing solution is that it comes with the Microsoft 365 business accounts. You don't have to pay anything extra for it.
This video conferencing solution is highly customizable, and using it with other Microsoft apps is very convenient as the integration between all the apps is very smooth.
However, what acts as an advantage for some people might not be very beneficial for others as this Video conferencing solution is effective only in a space that uses Microsoft apps. Also, its design is very formal, which may hinder open dialogue between the participants.
GoToMeeting comes with several features that enhance video conferencing. With the smart assistant, participants don't have to worry about managing the administrative task, and automatic transcription with word accuracy helps hearing-impaired people actively participate in an ongoing meeting. It also features a large number of participants for each plan and works very smoothly on all platforms.
The best part about this Video conferencing solution is the unlimited cloud storage for video recording.
One of the big problems that people face while using this solution is the lack of translation in other languages for transcription and that for webinars, you need to buy a different product.
- RingCentral Video
Another great option for video conferencing that comes at a low price is RingCentral video. It doesn't have that many features, but it is one of the best video conferencing solutions that offer high value with the free plan.
The best part about this solution is that participants don't have to install the software or have an account to join the meeting. This video conferencing solution is available in the application form for all the main platforms. Switching between devices while actively participating in a meeting is the best feature of this video conferencing solution.
However, it lacks many beneficial features like whiteboard, keyboard or mouse sharing, or q&a moderator tools.
- Zoho Meeting
It is a great technology for webinars, video conferencing, web presentations and allows for basic screen sharing. The best part about meetings is that it is inexpensive, and they can provide 40 video feeds simultaneously.
However, this technology still lacks some of the basic features like a whiteboard and is not compatible with many Microsoft apps like Internet Explorer and Outlook.
What is web conferencing?
It is a type of online meeting or conference between two or more participants at once at different locations. At the same time, it is common for people to consider web and video conferencing the same. But other than using the camera to combine audio and video while communicating online, both of these have nothing in common.
Web conferencing vs. video conferencing
Web conferencing is used to deliver a presentation on a whiteboard or by sharing the screen. However, in video conferencing, there is two-way communication between two or more participants at once. Web video conference is the combination of both these technologies. It makes use of the web to offer video conferences to participants at different locations.
As companies are initiating post-pandemic work processes, many of them are planning to go for hybrid setups. This is where video conferencing comes into the picture, and appears to be the most preferred way of communicating nowadays. One of the best firms that can offer you help with video conferencing is Tata Tele. Go through the guide above and make the best usage of video conferencing.