Videoconferencing Gets Real

By Heather Baldwin

If you want to meet via videoconference but don’t like the jerky, unnatural appearance you see on most videoconferencing products, check out SightSpeed’s new SightSpeed Web, a real-time, full-motion videoconferencing service that’s delivered through an Internet browser. SightSpeed Web matches the speed of the telephone, delivering audio/visual synchronicity at 30 frames per second through patented, human perception-based technology based on research conducted at Cornell University. Most other video conferencing products update the picture about once per second.

The only equipment needed to receive video through the service is a PC with any broadband connection. To send video, you’ll need a Web camera in addition to the PC and broadband connection. Videoconferences can be initiated with a single click on a URL through email, the licensed user’s Web site or anywhere a Web link is available, including an Instant Messaging buddy list. And it doesn’t have to be a two-way video conference – if you’re on the phone with a prospective customer and want to show him or her a product or feature, the prospect can click on the URL to see you in action.

Marc Beattie, senior analyst and partner at Wainhouse Research, says, “Many consumer videoconferencing solutions have failed to deliver the quality and ease-of-use that would draw in users,” but SighSpeed is the exception. “Operating over the commodity Internet, SightSpeed Web leverages some dramatic improvements in video technology to deliver a high-quality experience that may be compelling in some unique business applications and in consumer-to-consumer calls.” Beattie points out that additional SightSpeed Web features include integrated audio and text messaging as well as firewall transversal. “Pricing plans are similar to, but thankfully orders of magnitude less complex, than those of a wireless service,” he adds. One plan, which allows you up to 10 minutes a day of sending video, is free. The unlimited plan is $30/month. Another plan is $10/month plus 20 cents a minute over 200 minutes/month.

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