Monday, May 25, 2009

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's ooVoo!

I was just reading a post on the ooVoo blog by ooVoo CEO, Philippe Schwartz who described his recent experience of conducting an ooVoo video call from an airplane. He called it "a first" saying that he's probably done thousands of ooVoo calls both one-to-one and multi-party but never from an airplane. "I’ve ooVoo’d from cars, trains, cafes, hotels and had calls that connect people from Ohio, New York, Boston, Atlanta, Israel and Florida – all in one session! You would think I would be a little jaded – a little less apt to be wowed and amazed by a technology I work with every day. Frankly, I am still amazed daily by ooVoo, but on April 3, I shocked even myself," said Schwartz. "On a Virgin Air flight from San Francisco to Boston coming back from the Web. 2.0 conference – I logged onto the wireless connection at 30,000 feet, started up ooVoo and had an amazing, multi-point video chat from the plane with our owner and our vice president of marketing."

Here's the video, ooVoo is calling it a communication milestone which marks a first for the airline and video conferencing industries. ooVoo manages the in-air call quite well!

Schwartz was proud of the accomplishment saying that, “When I learned about Virgin America’s new WiFi service I couldn’t wait to put ooVoo to the test. Speaking face-to-face mid-flight with two colleagues on the ground was not only a testament to the quality of the service we’ve built, but to how far we’ve come technologically as a society.”

It's interesting to note is that videoconferencing technology like ooVoo was first developed years ago to save people travel time and keep them out of their cars and off airplanes to reduce the wear and tear from travel and increase their productivity. Today, with company travel budgets being slashed the business case for videoconferencing and virtual meetings have become an easier sell to the IT budget approvers since the ROI can be measured against the hard travel cost data.

But how much does the technology really need to cost? Looking at the ooVoo video and recognizing that it's a portable solution that can connect people anywhere by using a laptop, camera, microphone, conferencing software and internet connection - is it really necessary for companies to invest in hundred thousand dollar telepresence suites to enable employees and executives to connect? Granted ooVoo, Skype and the many other video chat solutions are either free or low cost and low bandwidth solutions and can't compete with high bandwidth high definition videoconferencing systems like Tandberg, Cisco, Lifesize or any of the others in the telepresence space. But as a collaborative tool, it's all videoconferencing whether it's a "fully immersive experience" or not.

Videoconferencing has gotten a bad wrap for many years because of connection issues, poor audio quality, complicated logistics or lack of support but video quality has not been a deal breaker. Over the years as video encoding standards have improved people have become used to seeing compressed video as long as the motion is fluid. Even though quality continues to increase technology has always been a good scapegoat and that will never change. People just want it to work and have the technology be transparent. That's why telepresence has moved into the mainstream - mainly though successful marketing efforts by Cisco - and has seen an increased adoption in the enterprise.

Interesting to note that in October 2008, Cisco CEO John Chambers predicted that videoconferencing would be available on planes within 18 months.

About ooVoo
ooVoo provides a high-quality webcam video chat and communication service that delivers a meaningful way for people to call and connect over the Internet. ooVoo’s technology enables people to experience a face-to-face conversation and share a full range of emotions as if they are in the same room together, whether they are across the street or across the globe. ooVoo’s superior quality video and audio are available to anyone with a computer, broadband connection and a web camera, for real-time video calls with up to six friends, relatives and colleagues simultaneously. ooVoo offers high-resolution video, video conversation recording, telephony, video messaging, instant message chat and file sharing amongst other capabilities.

ooVoo is privately held and headquartered in New York, NY. You can learn more and download free ooVoo software at

ooVoo Confirms First Air-to-Ground “Three-Way” Video Chat
Cisco CEO sees videoconferencing on planes within 18 months