Polycom brings video meetings to iPads, Android tablets

Mobile is the new frontier of videoconferencing, with several vendors bringing mobile devices into the fold for video meetings. Polycom is set to become the latest, with high-definition calling capability on the Apple iPad, Motorola Xoom and Galaxy Tab.

While the demand for large-scale videoconferencing systems has been limited by high cost and space requirements, mobile devices are becoming a growing part of enterprise computing. Videoconferencing vendors are now introducing ways to pull mobile workers using those devices into video meetings with their colleagues.

Polycom RealPresence Mobile runs on the iPad 2.

On Tuesday at the CTIA Enterprise & Applications trade show in San Diego, Polycom introduced its RealPresence Mobile software, which extends its RealPresence videoconferencing system to the three high-profile tablets. The software can send and receive video at 30 frames per second and 720p HD on the devices—at least over Wi-Fi connection—and provides the scale and management tools that enterprises demand, according to the company.

Several videoconferencing vendors have lined up recently to include mobile users in standard video meetings. Last week, Radvision announced availability of its Scopia Mobile V3 videoconferencing and data collaboration app for Apple’s iOS platform. Logitech’s LifeSize division also offers videoconferencing for the iPhones and iPads. Polycom rival Cisco Systems has placed a bet on its own Cius tablet as a mobile videoconferencing platform.

Polycom’s RealPresence platform, announced last month, is designed to orchestrate video conferences across a wide range of platforms. It incorporates many existing Polycom infrastructure products.

By using standards including H.264, H.323, SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) and the Cisco-backed TIP (Telepresence Interoperability Protocol), RealPresence can work with endpoints from third parties including Cisco and Radvision, said Jim Kruger, senior vice president of solutions marketing. RealPresence runs on Polycom’s UC Intelligent Core, which can scale up to reach 75,000 devices and handle 25,000 concurrent calls, according to Polycom.

RealPresence Mobile extends the reach of the new platform to mobile devices. When users join meetings on a tablet, they will see participants from other videoconferencing systems in HD, and the tablet user will appear in HD on those other systems. If there are multiple other participants, they can all appear on a divided screen on the tablet. Image quality depends on cellular or Wi-Fi signal strength and can step down if the signal weakens, Kruger said.

The RealPresence Mobile apps for iOS and Android will be free, but enterprises will have to pay to use them with other types of video endpoints over RealPresence, Kruger said.

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