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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: David Guthrie, CTO of PGi (Part 5)

Posted on Friday, May 18th 2012

SM: I heard you say a few things that I’d like probe into. Transcription, automatic transcription, is that a requirement that your customers are asking for?

DG: No, it’s not a requirement. Henry Ford said that what he would have given his customers if they’d asked for it would have been a faster horse.

SM: You’re not exactly building a new car here. You’re basically extending functionality. If you look at the use cases of video calls and Web meetings, I think it’s not so far out to think that transcription may be something that people may be looking for. For instance, for our video conferences that we do, transcription, auto transcription would be very helpful. I could tell you as a customer that yes, this is a functionality that would help me.

Sean: One of the things that we’re working toward in the iMeet platform is an easy-record functionality that’s going to turn iMeet into a multimedia publishing platform to where within the context of a video meeting room that’s provided by iMeet you can record not only a panel of participants but also share multimedia content like streaming video, PowerPoint presentations and things like that to create things like training material, sales material. Part of that functionality is creating content and making it transcribed and ultimately indexable and Google-able.

SM: As a heavy duty user of video conferencing technology, I can tell you that those are some of the things that would be incredibly helpful, being able to have transcription, having indexing, searchability of the multimedia content and being able to publish in both public mode and private mode … embed. For instance, one of the things we do in our video conferences is when we’re doing public events, we need embedded video recordings of those events or embedded conference recordings of those events. Today, Webex doesn’t provide that. We have to do that conversion ourselves and load it onto YouTube, and then we can embed the video in our blog. We can’t do that straight off of Webex. Those kinds of things are cumbersome. I know it’s in Webex’s product road map because I’ve checked, but these are some of the things that would make life a lot easier for people who are heavily using video conferencing or virtual conferencing.

Sean: That is not only in iMeet’s roadmap but also when we introduce the product, it will be with iMeet sensibility with a focus around usability and user experience.

SM: I would like to explore a final thread with you. I think it’s kind of people’s radar already. But from a feasibility and achievability point of view, it’s probably still five years out. At what point does the quality of the experience become tele-presence like? For instance, at what point does the desktop or even a television become a full tele-presence experience for a business meeting?

DG: I think you’ll see that in the next few years. Kodak H 264  has helped with that a lot with just lower bandwidth and higher quality. It’s a bandwidth issue, especially bandwidth to the edge. Whatever the lowest common denominator is on the receiving end, in the meeting is where you end up with a bottleneck. Bandwidth has to get better. The compression and codecs have to get better. The technologies are continuing to improve, but to achieve true 30 frames per second, which is what TV is today, it’s going to take a couple more years. But you’re going to be able to do all of that in software and over the network and even over the Internet as pipes continue to get better and processing continues to get better. You’re not going to need hardware to do that.

SM: Do you have a read on the bandwidth roadmap? At what point does the edge bandwidth become amenable to this kind experience?

DG: Well, there are multiple factors. It’s what device the user’s going in from. It’s the amount of bandwidth, and it’s how the codecs improved. So, there’re multiple factors. I think you’re looking at a couple years out to be able to do what you think of as tele-presence today in an environment. Before it gets ubiquitous on all types of devices, I think there’re a couple more years to go on that. But I do think it’s coming, and it’s coming fast. We continue to increase the size of our video elements in our meetings because the technologies can afford it, the bandwidth can afford it and the users, processing on their end, can afford those increases. We’d love to go full screen in 30 frames per second, but you can’t do that because of some of the limiting factors today. But that will change. And to your point, it’s probably four to five year horizon before it’s only available to everyone. I think it’s definitely on its way, and it can definitely all be done via software.

SM: Yes. I love it. I love what’s happening in the video collaboration, virtual collaboration world. We do video-conference based public and private meetings in 1M/1M. It’s a heavy duty video conference with slide sharing and public chat and everything. People join from all over the world.

DG: Very cool.

SM: It’s very cool, and I’m a huge believer in the whole virtual collaboration, virtual conferencing space. That’s why I invited you on this series.

DG: Thank you. I appreciate your inviting us.

SM: Thanks for your time, David.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: David Guthrie, CTO of PGi
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