Conferencing and Streaming Convergence (VC audience)
Connect. Any Way You Want.
Application Briefs by Polycom®
Polycom Video Communications
Video Streaming with Polycom
iPower™ Video Collaboration
Video Streaming with Polycom iPower Video
Videoconferencing and streaming media solutions have traditionally taken different usage tracks within an
enterprise environment and historically have been deployed for different communication applications.
Videoconferencing is designed for real-time communications so interactivity between users is inherent in
the way the technology is normally applied. In contrast, streaming is usually a “one-way” experience; there
is the communicator, a message and the audience who can experience a message in “real time” (as it is
created) or on-demand (after the fact). Applications for streaming may have interactivity but it is most often
between the user (at their PC) and a network resource, not between users.
When video conferencing and streaming systems share a common
network, there are many opportunities for leveraging the two
technologies. Streaming media offers a way for the users of
videoconferencing systems to expand the reach and increase the
impact of their meetings without compromising the quality of the
audio and video in a conference. Streaming media capabilities are
widely supported on enterprise PCs. This means that while the
desktop is not necessarily an equal participant or initiator of a real
time conference, the user of a desktop computer on a corporate
network can watch a conference stream or archive with very little
effort on the part of the IT group or the user. The reach of a
conference or event is extended beyond the domain of H.320 or
H.323 devices to include virtually all Microsoft Windows™ PCs.
One of the incentives to use streaming media for audiences is to reduce the cost and complexity associated
with having all audiences joining by videoconference with a multipoint conferencing unit. By having
viewers watching one stream including both people and content, the need for MCU ports is limited to only
those sites where a meeting or event participant is contributing to the conference. In addition to live events
being streamed to remote audiences in an “auditorium style” paradigm (where the audience can be large
compared with the videoconferencing end points participating), streaming technologies can be used to
record a conference of any size, at a fraction of the cost of reaching the same size audience over a video
call. After a conference has been recorded, creating a conference “archive,” the conference is available to
participants or those who were absent for review.
Business Applications for Streaming Media
Streaming media is popular in business for three broad categories of applications. The first category is
corporate communications. When targeting employees or partners/business influencers with information, it
is sometimes important for the subject matter expert or provider of the information to communicate with
non-verbal as well as spoken words. Executive addresses to employees or other audiences, usually spoken
from tightly scripted prepared remarks, are well suited to streaming media.
A second application is the area of business learning. Rich media on a PC screen with video and
synchronized slides offers the opportunity to demonstrate procedures or to see the facial expression of the
instructor. Many studies have demonstrated the positive impacts of streaming media on information
comprehension and retention.
The third popular application for streaming media is eBusiness. Increasingly companies are electing to
deliver information to their business partners and customers by way of rich media for the same reasons as
described above. Companies have demonstrated positive results with using streaming media webcasts to
generate leads in place of face-to-face seminars or “road shows” where customers can attend an
informational briefing without leaving their offices or at the time of their choosing.
Creating Streaming Media with Polycom
Videoconferencing and streaming media have a lot in common but until recently, it was difficult to
implement a solution that permits a videoconferencing user to capture an event in streaming media format
or to make a live conference available to anyone with a personal computer.
With Polycom People+Content™ Streaming, customers can now use their standard-compliant iPower
videoconferencing device to capture video, synchronized content or webcast a conference. Specifically, the
integration allows users to:
• Capture or stream locally-generated video and present synchronized content while not in
a live videoconference
• Capture a point to point or multipoint conference with content during the conference for
review (effectively creating an accurate archive of a conference), and
• At the same time or without capturing the conference, stream a videoconference with
video and content integrated in a common viewing window live to a remote audience
during the session
These capabilities are now inherent to the iPower product family running 5.0 software release.
Directly out of the iPower system and without additional external equipment, a videoconferencing system
user can elect to record or stream a conference by selecting “Stream to Web” from the Options menu. The
iPower system user will be prompted to enter a name
and password (optional) for the conference or local
video and content to begin streaming. In the same
screen, if a conference is in progress, radio dials permit
the person originating the stream to choose which site’s
video to stream from the iPower system. If an instructor
is teaching a class, he or she can set the server to
always stream the instructor’s video and content.
Viewers on the stream will see the instructor even when
other videoconferencing-enabled participants may be
asking questions. A voice activated switching option is
also available to produce the full meeting dynamic. To
permit the audience to see both participating locations
in a two way call at the same time, the user setting up
the streaming source can select Picture-in-Picture (PIP).
Up to five streaming media viewers can point their browsers to a pre-configured web page on the iPower
system. A web URL can access an iPower system-streaming server, if the server is registering with DNS,
or by IP address. A web page prompts the user to enter a conference name and optional password. The
built-in server logs the request and provided the information matches the stream name and password and
the receiving system has Windows Media player installed, it begins sending the stream to the audience
member who requested to view.
For PCs with earlier versions of Windows Media Player™, the server in iPower products prompts the user
to download and install the latest edition including the highest performance codecs.
The intelligent iPower streaming server will
show the video in full screen format, if
slides or a document (the Content) is not
presented. As soon as supporting
information is introduced into the
videoconference, the web interface resizes
the People video to the top left corner of the
window and dedicates a larger area for
Content (generally higher resolution
graphics). Since the Content is captured at
the display resolution (SVGA or XGA) of
the iPower system, streaming audiences can
zoom in or out of the content graphic using
the zoom control buttons on the web
interface. In addition, the video window can
be detached from the streaming media
window and repositioned at the viewer’s
discretion. Once detached, both the People
and the Content windows can be sized
independently of one another and be placed
anywhere on the user’s screen.
For live events that may have audiences exceeding the recommended five permissible on a single iPower
system, each iPower system in a videoconference could start streaming. For an even larger audience, such
as an employee meeting or distant learning application, the iPower system can utilize remote streaming
servers to host streams and re-broadcast to the network without loosing the audio, video and content
synchronization of the event or the settings selected by the originating stream source.
Recording local content or a live videoconference for on demand viewing is also easily controlled from
within the iPower 5.0 user interface. When recording is selected, the server captures the entire experience
of the conference including video as well as any content introduced into the conference by participants. An
archive can be written locally (to the iPower system’s hard disk) or remotely (to a network drive). The files
for the archive playback can also be stored on any external storage media such as USB thumb drives or
CDRWs attached to the iPower system via the USB ports.
A recording can be accessed like any other file stored locally or on the network. The recording is saved as
a self-contained unit in a folder that contains web (html format) pages that provide the People+Content
synchronization. Navigating the content of a conference archive is also intuitive in the playback user
interface. A viewer may pause, stop, or move the slider to a different point in the session.
After a conference is recorded, People+Content video files can be edited on a separate dedicated video
editing system using software available from one of many third party providers.
Videoconferences provide an engaging and interactive experience but they do not always satisfy the needs
of all the potential target audiences. By gracefully integrating streaming media and videoconferencing into
a single platform, Polycom iPower offers customers the best of both worlds: an efficient, easily managed
streaming media source for large or time-delayed audiences as well as a fully interactive and high quality
experience incorporating live video and supporting content.
With integrated video, audio, data, and Web capabilities, The Polycom Office is the only solution that
offers an easy way to connect, conference, and collaborate any way you want. iPower streaming and