In this article we will explain How Does Video Conferencing Work?. Video conferencing is a real-time connection between two or more parties who are remotely connected from multiple locations over the internet. Video conferencing is a visual simulation of face-to-face conferences which is very useful when there are limitations in meeting people physically. You can host team meetings, interviews, webinars, and so on with just a device with a working internet connection and clear audio and video facility.
Process of video conferencing
The video conferencing process has two main steps.
- Data compression
- Data transfer and decompression
This phase is also known as the coding phase. The very first step is to capture analog audiovisual (AV) input data from the camera and microphone. Collected data is a collection of continuous frequency and amplitude waves, These waves represent the characteristics such as color, depth, brightness, and shades, etc. The captured data is now converted and compressed into chunks of data, which is also known as digital data packets. The reason for this compression is to get the maximum utilization of the allocated bandwidth to minimize the usage.
Data transfer and decompression
This phase is also called the decoding phase. There are two steps here. First, the compressed data packets from the data compression phase are sent to the service provider through the network. From the service provider, these data packets are then transmitted to the other participants of the video conference.
Now when the packets reach their destination, the codec (a device or program which is capable of compressing and decompressing data) decompresses them. In this step, the codec converts the retrieved data back to analog audio and video data. Now the end-user can see and hear the correctly decoded audio and video feed from the sender.
Codecs play an important role in this process. Codecs can either be software or hardware-based equipment. The main functionality of codecs is to perform compression and decompression processes. This process helps to reduce bandwidth because as smaller the transferred data packets, the more packets can be transferred within the bandwidth. Another important feature of codecs is the support they give towards noise cancellation. Codecs have acoustic echo cancellation, acoustic fencing, and noise cancellation techniques which minimizes background noises in the conferences. This will help to maintain quality real-time communication.
Types of video conferencing
There are few types of video conferencing based on the number of participants and the use case.
Point-to-point video conferencing is where two parties are engaging in real-time communication from multiple locations. This kind of video conference is quite common with the current pandemic situation. One to one customer support services, Virtual interviews, personal tutoring sessions, and other personal video calls via Skype, WhatsApp, zoom, etc, are a few of the scenarios where point-to-point video conferencing is used.
Multipoint video conferencing, or group video conferencing is where three or more participants are engaging in the conference. Now, this has become a new norm in businesses with the work-from-home practice as it allows you to connect with people all over the world in a matter of seconds.
When the number of participants are increased , the process behind multipoint video conferencing becomes a bit complex. A multipoint control unit ( MCU) has a key role in this flow , which acts as the central point between the connected components.This is a hardware device used to bridge video conferencing connections to makes a virtual meeting centre where any number of people can dial in when they need to attend the calls.
There are many ways of multi-point conferences with the business logic behind them. Team meetings, Webinars, sales pitching, and product demos are a few of such scenarios.
What are the video conference system components?
To establish and maintain a successful video conference, you need to have a complete idea about the components involved in the process.
- Network –
This is the main component in any kind of conference. The network is essential for the data transferring process. Any network protocol such as wired/wireless local area network(WLAN), wide area network(WAN), wireless cellular networks, and residential broadband services can act as the medium of data transfer.
- Video cameras or webcams are needed to capture the video input.
- Two or more microphones ( these can either be an external microphone or built-in) to capture the audio input.
- A device to broadcast the video output (computer screen, mobile phone, monitor, TV or projector, etc).
- Speakers, Headset to broadcast the audio.
Key features of video conferencing software
Video conferencing gives more additional embedded features to provide the maximum usability of the conference.
This feature allows users to share their screens and presents while being in the call. Users can simply go through an important document or support materials, presentation, videos to support their live presentation with other participants. This is much useful in team meetings as this helps to keep everyone on the same page with a clear understanding. Some of the video conferencing apps support allowing permission to access other’s screens, so they can actively collaborate in presentations.
This feature can be used when you do not need to interrupt the speaker by talking in the middle of his session. Most of the tools now offer private and group chat boxes where you can share the messages, files, and images with your colleagues.
Video call recording
This allows keeping a recording in important sessions which is useful in documenting or sharing the information with other people. This needs the permission of the other participants and they are being notified when someone is recording the session.
This feature is really important to maintain the quality of the conference. Noise cancellation helps to filter out most of the common noises which can make the speaker inaudible.
With this feature, you can switch the device you are using in the middle of a conference without getting hung up from the calls.
Benefits of video conferencing
This method of conferencing is now giving more benefits to the people since it is becoming a new trend and a norm. Some of the benefits are,
- Improved productivity with efficient material sharing, decision making, and collaborative working patterns.
- Live and engaging conversations.
- Advanced communication than typically written communication methods.
- Can have successfully structured meetings.
- Time-saving and cost-effective.
- Supports and motivate remote working practices.
Disadvantages of video conferencing
Even though video conferencing provides various benefits for people and businesses it also has some disadvantages.
- Complexities in achieving high-quality video conferencing
- Need an uninterrupted, reliable, high-speed internet connection with minimum latency errors.
- Cost of high-quality video conferencing systems
- maintenance and monthly/annual charges of the software and other related components can be an additional overhead to the companies.
Video Conferencing Tools
Some of the popular video conferencing tools are as follows,
Video conferencing is not a new method for the world. It has been there and evolved with technology from time to time. Especially with the current pandemic situation, most of the organizations prepare and reform themselves for the remotely working practice. Even in a post-pandemic situation, we can assume that they will continue with a hybrid workplace setup where video conferencing will continue to be a preferred method of conferencing. Since there are more tools to support video conferencing, you can choose one which suits the domain and the scale of your business or for personal use after studying the features and budget thoroughly.