Once firmly within the realm of science fiction, video conferencing has since become a standard practice for many businesses, and is growing even more popular as technology improves and prices fall. In sectors ranging from health care to higher education, institutions are striving to support face-to-face conversations, any time, anywhere.
Take CERN, for example. The international research organization gave birth to the World Wide Web, so it's no surprise that its members rely on it extensively for communication. But, as the Wall Street Journal recently revealed, CERN tends to go above and beyond what others might do. The 20,000 scientists working for CERN on projects all over the world may have as many as 300 video conferences per day.
Most businesses won't need that sort of volume, but there are plenty of options available to fit their needs that are far superior to what could have been accessed several years ago. At the high end, there are full-sized room systems that include large video walls, speaker systems, microphones and a video camera. For a bit less money, businesses can invest in more compact systems that only include cameras and microphones, though the company must provide the television. If that fails, smartphones or tablets using basic videochat apps are always an option.
Some companies need large-scale conferencing abilities. For that, the Wall Street Journal found startups like Vidyo, which sells screens that can display as many as eight people at a time and be linked together for larger conversations.
But to make these screens work, companies will have to invest in audio video extenders for the best quality.