What I learned on my New Years break…

Skype is everywhere and everyone knows how to use it. What does this mean?

When I was young, my family and I would pile into the car on boxing day and drive from one relative’s house to the other. I would meet cousins that I didn’t know I had and there would be lots of food and cheer. With the passage of time and the spreading out of the family that is no longer practical.

What did happen this year however is the virtual visit. My kids got to talk with their cousins that live in Chicago, North Carolina, Oklahoma City, Cornwall and Vancouver. We hooked a Microsoft 1080P Webcam up to my MacBook and connected the HDMI out to the 46″ TV in the family room.

Everyone had a great time and the audio and video was amazingly good. Next year the tour will be bigger and involve more relatives.

We have all done video calls on our PC’s before but being able to hook up the 46″ screen and give others a view of the whole family room in 1080P resolution, made the experience almost like being there. The fact that it all ran over the Internet and didn’t cost me a cent, didn’t hurt either. Everyone commented that they really appreciated the call and told others who also called in to check it out for themselves.

So yes I’m part geek and that is why I was able to provide such a good experience for the callers. By next year however, I would suggest to you that everyone will upgrade their cameras and bandwidth and the calls we be amazing in both directions.

So for video companies like Cisco/Tandberg, Lifesize, Polycom, Sony, Microsoft, what does this mean? Video is going to become main stream and integration with Skype will be a hard requirement. If you work with Skype and connect to other higher end video systems, that will be even better. Businesses in Europe and Asia already use Skype and I predict that its use for business will increase in 2013.

Firewall traversal will still be an issue for all protocols other than Skype, so some kind of cloud based video service will be required to offer a higher end video experience.

I can see families wanting to have family gatherings that will require a bridge or relay server so that all the relatives can be in the same room at once. I expect that this will not be as big a deal as the free point-to-point Skype calls, but the clever marketeer who makes it easy and cost effective will get some business.

I do declare Skype the winner for home based video conferencing and expect to see wider deployment and enhancement of it’s use cases in 2013.


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