Multimedia Engineering

Videoconferencing has come into its own since the turn of the century. As of this writing, exchanging both real time and prerecorded video over public and private networks and airwaves has become both mainstream and affordable. Once the fodder for science fiction (2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 Dr. Floyd videophones his daughter on her birthday from an orbiting space station) and cartoons in the paper (Dick Tracy 1946 comic strip, the detective's watch is a techie's dream: it is a two-way, voice-activated video phone that fits around a wrist) wireless video exchange is as much a reality as can be.

The basics of videoconferencing include knowing how many people you wish to conference simultaneously, bandwidth requirements, QoS (quality of service) issues, LAN limitations, WAN considerations, protocol selection (compatibility) and cost of hardware and software.

Many of today's computers come completely equipped and configured to do basic videoconferencing. This should not be deemed a substitute for the corporate boardroom systems. Big companies are spending big bucks on videoconference technology, hoping to reduce the amount of travel time and expense and lost productivity bringing people together for a meeting. How this all will shake out in the long run is anybody's guess.