Archive for the ‘Video Conferencing’ category

Telehealth: When Video Conferencing helps Medicine

January 9th, 2018

Telehealth, alias video conferencing applied to medicine, enables doctors to reach the patients that are dispersed on a wide territory at acceptable costs. In this way, it becomes possible to provide efficient health care services to rural communitie, despite ofthe funding cuts on hospitals

Imagine a scenario when a hospital with shrinking financial resources has to take care of a population widely dispersed on the territory and with a high percentage of children with heart diseases.  In the past, this meant to spend a lot of time and money on promptly dispatching ambulances, doctors and health personnel kilometers away to rescue someone that was about to die in a remote farm or hut; today, telehealth makes everything simpler and – last but not least – less expensive. In fact, in a world where babies learn first to use a tablet, than to walk, the application of video conferencing to healthcare can really make miracles.

In the given example, the necessary ongoing monitoring of the young patients with heart diseases has been made through Telehealth, anything else then a system of video conferencing. A video conference can be also helpful to alert the doctor when a patient shows worrying symptoms. In this way, the doctors working for the local hospital can take a close eye even on distant patients, without any need to physically bring them to a medical facility, and – the main important point – with substantial money saving.

Health diseases are not the only ones that can be managed through telehealth. Telemedicine schemes can be applied to a wide set of illnesses, as the power of modern video conferencing technology enables doctors to recognize symptoms even through a video conference.

More, this technology has been proved to be really effective on promoting cooperation among doctors and hospitals. Video conferencing solutions like, for example, R-Hub`s TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com), enable health-personnel to exchange important information like scans, exams, and  medical records in a video conference without any impairment of the privacy of the patients or any risk of data leaking. This aspect is particularly relevant, as in many countries the Law wants patient information to be kept confidential and health personnel are responsible for that.

Does telemedicine really work? According to many doctors’ opinions, yes, it does. It has certainly helped to save lives because video-conferencing allowed rapid action that couldn’t have been possible without. This is another reason to adopt this technology, apart from the usual financial considerations.

However, budget is important. According to a research published by the blog “Fierce Healthcare”, through telemedicine patients are able to save about 50$ in travel costs per visit and hospitals 25$. Then, it should be added the savings in terms of fewer days of hospitalization. In a world of decreasing financial resources for healthcare, video conferencing could thus become a strategic asset for any health facilities: Consider that only in the US cuts in health care are over 1.8 trillion dollars in 2018 (source:https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/26/16526458/2018-senate-budget-explained) , and Europe is going to follow soon.

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The 3 most Important Parameters to consider when configuring a Video Conferencing service for Virtual Workplaces

January 8th, 2018

Bandwidth, audio quality and room assessment are the three fundamental variables on which the effectiveness of any video conference service for virtual workplaces depends

As almost everybody knows, video conferences have become one the most important components of any virtual workplace, as they contribute to enhance workforce productivity, decision making, team building and customer support. However, like any technology, video conferencing meets the expectations of business organizations only when it has been properly configured.

What are the crucial parameters of which to take care, in order to have an effective video conferencing service for your business? The answer is quite simple: they are audio and video quality, bandwidth size and room assessment. Let’s see why.

1) Audio and video quality. The more powerful the audio and video quality is, the most similar to the real world the experience of the participants to your virtual events will be. This means much, especially in terms of communication. Consider that human communication is mostly non-verbal, and a significant part of the message gets lost during its transmission through a virtual environment.

The idea behind video conferencing is exactly to preserve the contents of the exchanged messages as much as possible, so that the experience in a virtual workplace resembles the one in a real office. This decreases a lot the risks of misunderstandings and makes the virtual office a quite comfortable place where to work with consequent increases in productivity and speed.

Poor video and audio quality will inevitably make your collaborators slower (they have to make up for the loss in communication) and the virtual environment uncomfortable, with the result to loose most benefits of video conferencing.

2) Bandwidth Size. We can compare bandwidth to the capacity of a pipeline. If the pipeline is large enough, data stream fast and without obstacle; if the pipeline is too narrow, data slow down with subsequent hassles, like image overlapping and lack of synchronization.

The result is that the quality of the video becomes so poor that it is impossible to keep attending the meeting for participants. The solution usually taken by users is to fall back to text chats, with the loss of the benefits of real stream collaboration through video conferencing.

This is the reason why it is so much important to optimize the bandwidth size when your organization plans to install a video conferencing service. The operation is not complicated in itself (there are some helpful formulas available to reckon how much bandwidth is necessary), and it can be made by any technician.

3) Room Assessment. The physical place where your team stays during video conferences must be conveniently arranged, in order to avoid the participants of your video conferences some common and annoying issues like, for example, data security threatens (people that spy passwords), noise  inconveniences  and incorrect backgrounds. A good practice is to devote a special room to video conferencing with white walls, minimal furniture, good insolation, proper enlightening, comfortable layout and microphones and cams already adjusted, so that to minimize inconveniences.

If you are interested in virtual workplaces and their problems, you are going to find further helpful resources and posts on R-HUB`s blog at http://www.rhubcom.com

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The Importance of Bandwidth for Video Conferencing

December 30th, 2017

Does your video conference glitch? Probably the cause could be poor bandwidth. Let’s examine the importance of this factor in video conferencing quality

Video conferencing is not exactly as the videos that you enjoy on YouTube. While internet video clips are reproduced by downloading some portions of the footage ahead of time, in video conferencing data are sent in real time in small chunks.

So, why bandwidth is important? According to Wikipedia, bandwidth is the information capacity of your system expressed in bits. In other words, bandwidth measures the capacity to process data of your network by quantity. Imagine your network as a hydraulic system made of pipes and valves, where the data streaming through it are like water; bandwidth is similar to the capacity of pipes expressed in liters per second.

Now, what happens in a physical hydraulic system, when the pressure (the quantity of liters per second) is too high? Usually, a pipe breaks down somewhere and the water spills out. In IT, data networks (the IT equivalent of pipes) cannot break (luckily); therefore, the solution cannot but stop the data stream and keep it waiting while your system processes the first chunks of data that arrived. The analogy could be with a traffic tail; the drivers in the back of the tail have to wait that the drivers ahead go past the traffic light or the road junction before moving on.

Obviously, the larger the road (or the pipe), the higher the quantity of cars (or water) it is able to hold without traffic tail (or breaks in the pipes). Same in IT: the larger the bandwidth, the bigger the quantity your network can process without data delay. When bandwidth is set properly, the result is smooth video conferencing, without frame-stops, jerking images and glitches.

How to understand what is the right amount of bandwidth for your needs? Actually, there is a formula that can help: video Bandwidth (in MB per second) = Users + conference room system capability X 2 Mbps (max call rate) x concurrent utilization in % + 10% (protocol overhead).

For example, let’s imagine  a scenario with five simultaneous calls for every 100 users that share an internet connection. It means a concurrent utilization of 5%. If the capacity of your room systems is 10 Mbps, the formula becomes: 100+10 x 2 x 5% + 10% = about 250 Mbps of bandwidth capacity.

When the bandwidth allowed is too much, we have what it is called over optimization; your video conferences will fly, but you will spend too much money, as bandwidth costs. When it is too little, your video conferences start jerking and the stream slows down.

Naturally, bandwidth is not the only parameter to take into account when deciding how many resources to assign to your video conferencing system. Furthermore, some factors like cloud based video conferencing services can affect in some way our calculations. However, bandwidth requirements of video conferencing tools are usually written in their user manuals.

If you are interested in video conferencing and its best practices, you are going to find further resources and useful articles and posts in R-HUB`s blog at http://www.rhubcom.com

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How to Successfully Speak in front of a Camera?

December 26th, 2017

Four golden rules to speak to your audience in an effective way while sitting in a video conference

The spreading of virtual places (like video conferences) has made our virtual presence even more important than the real one.  Now, voice is not a secondary detail of our virtual presence, as it highly impacts on our audience together with other factors, like our appearance on the screen and our facial movements. Therefore, it is not a bad idea to spend some time to learn some best practices to speak in front of a camera efficiently.

First rule, speak to the camera. The camera you have in front is your audience, because during a conference your guests can look only at the screen, and nowhere else. In other words, video conferencing compels participants to be attentive and focused along the whole event, without many opportunities to get distracted.

If you look directly at the camera, your participants see you as looking at their eyes and become immediately attentive. If you look somewhere else, the result is dramatic: on the screen, everybody sees a guy who turns right or left and does not speak to them but to somebody else off the screen.

Second rule, keep your hands away from your face.Unfortunately, cameras magnify everything, and even the smallest and insignificant movement becomes automatically well visible and noticeable. The effect is that your moving hands distract your audience, as your guests start immediately to follow your gesturesand lose focus on your words or – which is worse – your presentation.

Third rule; don’t miss the importance of body language. Your shoulders, neck, face and half-bust is well shown during a conference, and anyinvoluntary movement gets magnified. However, natural gestures are useful to make your guests feel comfortable and you look human.  Nobody likes talking statues. The only precaution to take is to maintain the seize of your gestures appropriate (not too large) and avoid your arms/hands flailing outwards, because it could scare your audience.

Last rule, adjust your microphone. If your microphone is too high, your voice is distorted and it sounds not human; if it is too-low, your audience cannot hear. You’d better make some trails before your conference. usually, video conferencing platforms allow you to speak to the microphone , hear your voice and adjust the microphone consequently. It is also important to remember to keep your head not too far while speaking.

Are you interested in virtual conferencing? You are going to find more resources and interesting articles on video  conferencing best practices on R-HUB`s blog at http://www.rhubcom.com

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Virtual Conferences: Which technology is the cheaper between Cloud-based Solutions and On-Premise Server based Solutions?

December 16th, 2017

Despite the common opinion, on-premise server-based technologies for virtual conferencing can be less expensive than cloud-based technologies, on the condition to choose the right product

Moving to the cloud has been the mantra of the world of virtual conferences in the last few years. Among the reasons given, we found that the prices of cloud-based virtual conferencing services are supposedly lower than the old, poor technology of on-premise servers, and, last but not least, cloud solutions are more scalable.

Is this assumption true? Not at all. Despite the cloud revolution, the producers of on-premise server-based technologies for virtual conferences are safe and sound and still on the market with innovative products that are able to outperform the cloud right now, like, just to mention one, the latest release of R-HUB`s TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com) : in the domain of real collaboration, these servers have reached the shortest  frame delays possible today in live streaming ( 3- 10 seconds). This is evidence of the vitality of the technology of on-premise servers, despite the ones that keep on announcing that the bells tolls for them.

Going deeper, clouds are not as cheap as they are usually reported in the leaflets and the advertisements. According to some experts (Brianinca, https://community.spiceworks.com/topic/1413438-how-is-cloud-promoted-as-being-cheaper-than-on-premise?page=1#entry-5451300  ), the cost of them is higher in the long run.

And, even though the price of each individual cloud service may seem low, the sum of the costs of all the cloud services that your organization has to buy could be very high in the end. If it is true that clouds are easily scalable, it is also true that it comes with risks of downtime and sudden high traffic peaks that can cost you an arm and a leg.

If you hope to save money on the IT team, you are going to be disappointed: the highly complex nature of cloud products often requires paying high fees to specialized technicians. Last, clouds have their hidden costs, should they be the need of specific hardware or redundant ISP connections.

On the side of on-premise servers, producers have been able to greatly improve their products, at the point that a solution like TurboMeeting has probably no hidden costs and can be managed in total transparency, so that mangers know what they have to exactly spend for their virtual conferences. This outstanding result has been achieved by eliminating the need of maintenance and a devoted IT team. In facts, R-HUB`s servers are self-installing and self-updating machines, and their maintenance is performed by R-HUB team remotely.

In other words, they are devices fully plug-and-play, and their stupidly- easy and intuitive graphic interface that is supported by clear, step-by-step directions on both video and paper makes staff training superfluous. TurboMeeting is so easy that users could even learn to use it just one minute before their conference.

In conclusion, the race between clouds and on-premise servers is still wide open, and we may expect other surprises from the on-premise server technology in the future.

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