CERN Switches to Vidyo

When it comes to videoconferencing, no one is pickier than CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.  Founded in 1954 and straddling the border between France and Switzerland, this massive facility is home to some of the most cutting-edge research in physics.

Home to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest and most powerful partical accelerator, CERN houses research by over half of the world's particle physicists - about 6500 people. They come from over 500 universities in 80 countries.

CERN's staff also includes highly specialized engineers, technicians, designers and craftspeople. All told, about 3000 people are employed to prepare, run, analyze and interpret the complex scientific experiments that make CERN a successful scientific organization. 

So when CERN made the decision to retire its proprietary video conferencing system and switch to Vidyo, it made headlines.

According to Dr. Tom Smith, the leader of Collaboration and Information Services Group at CERN’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, commercial products often lag behind those created by CERN when it comes to capabilities.   “Quite often what we do is invent our own because of a need we can’t meet,” he says.

To that effect, CERN has used a privately developed videoconferencing system since 1996, which has remained in use until this year.  This system outstripped anything commercially available for years.

But CERN is not in the business of lagging behind the time, and the researchers kept an eye out for new technologies to service their needs. 

In that vein, CERN piloted Vidyo’s conferencing gear roughly in 2009 or 2010, he says, to see whether it could scale to the needs of the organization, which supports 250 conferences per day, with 3,000 individuals participating in those conferences. The largest single conference had more than 250 participants, and overall provided connectivity for 3,000 connections of independent users in a day.

While CERN hasn't completely moved over to Vidyo, the product's support for iOS devices and scalable video coding (SVC) makes it very attractive.  

The equipment supports devices running Windows, iOS, Linux and Android. In a pinch participants could use smartphones and they have, but that’s a last resort as when a conference participant has to catch a plane and the only option is to conference in from the airport, Smith says. Support for iOS devices was something the proprietary system lacked, he says.

CERN is best known to non-scientists as the facility that discovered the so-called "God Particle," also known as the Higgs Boson, in 2012.  While the discovery made front page news, most lay people have no idea what the Higgs boson--or any boson, for that matter--even is.  According to Jonathan Atteberry at HowStuffWorks.com,

Some physicists have described bosons as weights anchored by mysterious rubber bands to the matter particles that generate them. Using this analogy, we can think of the particles constantly snapping back out of existence in an instant and yet equally capable of getting entangled with other rubber bands attached to other bosons (and imparting force in the process).

Finding the boson was no easy task.  It required time, money, communication, and tons and tons of data.  As Cornell associate professor Peter Wittich explains,

...the Large Hadron Collider works by smashing beams of protons together, with the collisions recorded by cameras taking 40 million pictures a second. “We think of ourselves as big data pioneers,” said Wittich, describing the analysis necessary to find significant events. “It’s the ultimate needle in a haystack. Out of 6 million billion collisions there are maybe 100,000 Higgs events, and we can find maybe 1 percent of them.”

While Higgs may be the most famous of the CERN experiments, it isn't the only one.  Here are a few other projects they are working on.

  • ALPHA: A project which makes, captures and studies atoms of antihydrogen to compare to regular hydrogen atoms.
  • CAST: A project searching for hypothetical particles called axions, which could explain differences between matter and antimatter.
  • OSQAR: An experiment seeking particle components of dark matter in order to explain why our universe is made of matter instead of antimatter.

And not content to seek answers in the tiny recesses of atomic space, CERN researchers are also on a quest to discover a rare archeological find - the very first Web page!

The key to the success of these and other large scale experiments lies in the ability of scientist, researchers and support personel to quickly and efficiently share data and ideas.  That's where video conferencing comes in, and that's where Vidyo shines!

Vidyo Sees 68% Growth in Billings With New Round of Investors

Vidyo, a growing leader in video conferencing, has announced a 68% growth in billings after a new round of investors led by Triangle Peak Partners, LP, an investment firm specializing in technology, energy, and alternative energy. This brings the total funding since the company's inception in 2005, to $116M.

In an article written for venturebeat.com, Joe Koetsier suggests three reasons for the growing confidence in Vidyo's telepresence technology. First, Koetsier suggests Vidyo continues to build and attract new investors, largely due to its reliance on cheaper, built-in components, as opposed to room-based video conferencing, which is significantly more expensive. Secondly, it's appealing in its utilization of the cloud, which yields versatility in solutions. Finally, Vidyo's sales model positions the company to pour resources into technology development, which is the crux of telepresence services.

Vidyo's's sale's model relies on revenue sharing partnerships. This reduces the amount of resources required for sales, as the network expands organically through those of their partners. With a smaller focus on sales and marketing, new funding from investors can be used on the development of technology. In the world of video conferencing, technology development makes for sustainable and reliable services. Sustainable and reliable services make for satisfied consumers.

Such a large investment from Triangle Peak Partners, LP, an investment firm with a specific interest in and research base revolving around technology, speaks confidently of Vidyo's future. According to Ryan Lawler from techcrunch.com, Vidyo currently boasts 26 patents with an additional 56 pending. It's housed in 13 offices around the world, and with this new funding, consumers can expect to see services expand globally and the technology improve even more.

Telepresence enhances medical care, reduce costs

You’re a surgeon who wants to learn a new procedure but the pioneering doctor performing the operation is in Houston and you’re in Seattle. Besides, you can’t always see well from the gallery. Instead, you can watch the surgery in high definition on your computer, tablet or even on your mobile phone.

You’re a medic at the scene of an accident but a victim’s condition is beyond your ability.  Call up an ER doctor at the hospital, and because he or she can see the patient, they are better able to guide you through the process, than if it was described on the phone.

Streamlined Medical Care

Welcome to enhanced 21st Century medical care and the rapidly growing area of personal telepresence and video conferencing.  These practical applications are taking video conferencing beyond chatting with friends and family at a distance. The future is now as the technology is already being used for these purposes and more. Wouldn’t patients love to cut down on traveling to the doctor if they could turn on their computer and visit the doctor? House calls return.

With businesses, patients and the medical profession looking for ways to trim costs, telepresence can achieve that without sacrificing care.  According to Telepresence Options:

 “It could be a cost-saver too. Some industry analysts have said remote monitoring could lead to savings of 20 to 40 percent by reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and catching chronic problems early. Others have cited pending doctor shortages -- a national gap expected to reach 130,000 by 2025, as the baby boomer retirement wave crests -- as reason to embrace remote health-care technology.”

Walk-in Telehealth Kiosks

Vidyo recently signed a contract with HealthSpot(TM), a pioneer in patient and provider driven healthcare technology. HealthSpot has integrated Vidyo technology into its cutting-edge telehealth station that provides high-quality medical diagnostics to acute care patients anytime, anywhere. Anchoring the telehealth system is the HealthSpot(TM) Station, a private, walk-in kiosk that offers patient access to diagnosis and treatment by board-certified doctors, via Vidyo-powered HD videoconferencing and interactive digital medical devices. This provides patients a face-to-face experience with a board-certified doctor who could be miles away. Each station is supported by a certified medical attendant who facilitates check-in, helps patients with devices as needed, and sanitizes the kiosk after every visit.

With continuing emphasis on “being green,” reducing doctor visits will cut back on the fuel patients would use to drive to the doctor. With kiosks like HealthSpot, there will be a reduction in paper work.  Not to mention, the improved efficiencies with doctors delivering direct one-on-one remote consultations.

Vidyo and Internet2 Partnership Brings Collaborative Potential to Education

April brought exciting news for America's higher education system. Vidyo, Inc. and Internet2 have partnered to offer a low-cost, subscription-based video communications system for all Internet2 university members and thousands of public K-12 schools in the United States. Early adopter enrollment is expected to begin in May.

The introduction of a reliable telepresence service into our educational system yields endless possibilities. As our capacity to connect with the world strengthens (via the internet and mass media), so does our understanding that we do not exist in a vacuum. Collaboration is imperative. Telepresence technology facilitates important collaborative relationships regardless of geographic barriers.

Vidyo technology has clear benefits in higher education, particularly between research programs. Multiple research teams across institutions and disciplines may work together to examine and solve important problems. Research teams traveling to satellite sites may remain connected to campus activities and support crews. But this partnership in education also inspires other ideas.

With Vidyo technology, we may see educational collaborations between the professional world--corporate, industrial, trade, human services, global--and education institutions, both higher and K-12. Such collaborations could improve the capacity of our schools to produce a highly and appropriately skilled work force, as participants exchange information about changing trends and needs. Such collaborations could inspire students in the choices they make regarding their futures, being given an insider's perspective not possible through strictly theory-based curricula.

With the ability to engage in real-time (face-time) communication across geographic barriers, students have the opportunity to learn from a wide variety of experts via discussions about current issues. Education becomes more meaningful when it jumps out of the textbook. Also, it shrinks the distance between the classroom and the global context. Students who see a world outside of their own neighborhoods are more likely to exercise compassion for others with different worldviews.

The partnership between Vidyo and Internet2 to bring reliable telepresence technology to education is an exciting step toward meaningful and collaborative learning and exploratory experiences.

Growth of Telepresence Despite Economic Obstacles

Despite an overall lackluster economy, the growth in telepresence still remains promising. While the benefits of telepresence and video conferencing are clear, obstacles in the World Macroeconomy prevented certain businesses from making the transition; in the past few years, companies have had to prioritize again and again, and even cut back on which at first they deemed essential. However, there were still some improvements in the telepresence and videoconferencing market, signaling both the current strength and future prospects of the industry.

Recent research provided by IDC shows that the worldwide enterprise videoconferencing and telepresence equipment market was $2.64 billion in 2012, down from $2.71 billion in 2011. However, they attribute this decrease to macroeconomic variables rather than a decrease in demand for the equipment.

While the overall equipment market decreased, other aspects of the telepresence and videoconferencing industry saw healthy growth. In 2012, room-based video conferencing grew 4.1 percent from 2011, and personal videoconferencing grew 5 percent.

The benefits of videoconferencing remain intact and relevant. Businesses can still cut down on increasing travel fees and save time and energy by hosting a video conference rather than an actual meeting. In addition, the telepresence and videoconferencing industry both depends on and is driven by network externalities. Similar to how the fax machine became more useful when other businesses purchased fax machines, videoconferencing becomes more desirable as other businesses adopt the technology. With growth in the industry and the equipment market seeing new customers enter the industry, videoconferencing is set to continue it's growth and increasingly be seen as a necessity for day-to-day business.

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