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The Past, Present, and Future of Video Telecommunication or, The 3% Solution. Dave Lindbergh IMTC Fall Forum November 2008. Contents. Hooke Labs & how we use video Past How we got to this point Present Successful niches for video Why no mass-market adoption of video? False reasons

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The past present and future of video telecommunication or the 3 solution l.jpg

The Past, Present, and Future of Video Telecommunicationor,The 3% Solution

Dave Lindbergh

IMTC Fall Forum

November 2008


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Contents

  • Hooke Labs & how we use video

  • Past

    • How we got to this point

  • Present

    • Successful niches for video

    • Why no mass-market adoption of video?

    • False reasons

    • User expectations  Correct reasons (my opinion)

  • Future

    • How to succeed: The 3% Solution


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Thesis

  • Video telecom is in < 1% of conference rooms

    • ~ 0% of homes

  • Mass acceptance has never occurred

    • Despite huge consumer enthusiasm for video

    • Despite good solutions to traditional problems

  • Because the quality of experience falls short

    • The “sense of being there” is disappointing

  • This will change

    • Telepresence market is the lever

    • Gradual improvements will lead to the mass-market


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Hooke’s use of video


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Hooke Laboratories

  • Start-up biotech CRO & manufacturer

  • Typical CRO contract $5000 to $50,000

  • Customers all over the world

    • USA, Canada

    • Europe

    • Asia

    • South America


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Hooke is well-equipped for video

  • Co-founder w/14 years in video conferencing

  • Broadband Internet connection

  • Skype + webcams

  • Polycom VSX 7000 (H.323, SIP, H.320)


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How often does Hooke use video?

  • Never

    • Not once

  • Why not? And what can be done about that?

    • That is what this talk is about


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How we got here


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Video telephony system

  • 18 frames/second

  • Progressive scan

  • Plasma display

  • Pixel aspect ratio 3:2

  • Image quality described as “excellent”

  • End-to-end latency 1 millisecond (great!)


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7 April 1927 – Bell Labs


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New York – Washington DC

Walter GiffordHerbert Hoover

President, AT&TUS Sec’y of Commerce

New York Washington DC


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“Television” = Telephone + Vision

  • 50x50 pixel display, neon bulbs

  • Camera: Arc lamp beam, mechanical scanning

  • Optional projection to 2x3 feet

    • But “results were not so good”

Edna Mae Horner

Operator

Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company


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AT&T Picturephone

1957 “Experimental Model”


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Early 1960s

Mirror


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AT&T was very serious

  • Plenty of smart business people!

1964


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Framing


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AT&T was not alone

Lots of investment, market research, usability studies…

NTT, 1968 Philips, 1974


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AT&T quietly gave up in the early 1970s

  • Did it “cost too much”?


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1980s – Still image picture phones

  • Mid-1980s: Japanese consumer electronic firms introduced still-image picture phones

    • Used existing regular analog phone line

    • POTS modem

    • ~ 5 seconds to send 1 black & white frame

    • No audio during picture transmission

    • ~$200 each

  • Very few takers


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1992 – AT&T Videophone 2500

  • “Predicting that 10 years from now video phones will be as popular as cordless phones and fax machines, last week AT&T introduced the first full-color motion video phone that operates over regular phone lines…”

    • Newsweek, January 20, 1992

  • 10 frames/second, $1500

  • Marconi, others, had similar products


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Many more videophones since then

  • They all worked

  • Their makers all expected commercial success

  • And why not?

    • Consumers are consistently excited at the idea of video telecommunication

Siemens T-View (H.320 ISDN) ~ 1997


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Maybe the technology wasn’t ready

  • Too expensive

  • Poor video quality

  • Not enough bandwidth

  • Maybe the time is finally right

    • Maybe your company is thinking about introducing a video phone

    • Maybe you think now is the time

  • If so…


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…you are not alone


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Others have thought so, too


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Really, more than you might think


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...a lot more


And more l.jpg

…and more…


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…and more.


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Today:

  • Video phones are in every home and every office

  • Well, no

  • Why not???


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People want video communication

  • Witness all the attempts

  • Just talk to potential users – lots of excitement

  • But they don’t buy or use video when offered

    • Except for narrow niche applications

  • For some reason people are disappointed

    • We need to understand why before we can fix this


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Progress so far


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A successful, but small, industry

  • Video conferencing

    • ~$2B/year (generously)

    • Doesn’t seem to be growing much

  • Telepresence

    • ~$100M/year(?), growing fast

    • Expense limits market size

      (Wainhouse says < $1B)


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Video telecommunication today

  • Video conferencing offered since mid-1980s

    • More than 20 years

  • More successful than video phones

  • Why?

    • High-value application

    • Relatively big picture, high resolution

    • Less restriction on where people are in the frame

    • More “like being there” than video phones

    • At work – people are paid to use it

  • But…


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After 20+ years, video is in < 1% of conference rooms

Lots of room for growth 

Similar problems as stopped video telephony 

Source:

http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1006610

October 14, 2008


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People want visual communicationSo – Why?


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Challenges today – are these the problem?

  • Connectivity issues

    • Incompatible protocols & standards

    • NATs and firewalls

    • Network fragmentation

      • IP, ISDN, POTS, 3G, 4G…

    • No public/automatic gateways and bridges

  • Too much latency

    • And lots of denial about it; doesn’t help


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Videophones didn’t have connectivity problems (mostly)

  • Early videophones solved connectivity

    • Offered & operated by carriers

    • Simple analog devices

  • Many videophones were utterly reliable

    • POTS models used voice network (w/modems)

  • Reliability was not the problem

  • Connectivity was not the problem


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Why no mass adoption – is it cost?

  • AT&T spent $billions – lots of market research

    • Best and brightest people in the world

    • They were sure it would sell

  • Many free services: PC + $15 webcam

    • Skype, AIM, Yahoo, MS Messenger, NetMeeting…

  • Many video phones were/are offered by carriers with subsidies

    • Phones under $300 common

    • Same usage fees as voice calls

  • Probably not cost


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Is it ease of use?

  • AT&T Picturephone was a telephone

    • Pick up phone, dial number

  • Most videophones are equally easy to use

  • Probably not ease of use


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Is it video quality? Latency?

  • Many products have very good video quality

    • Even bad pictures look good on small displays

    • 1960s analog phones had good quality

  • Modern VC systems have excellent video quality, large displays, but still haven’t enjoyed mass adoption

  • Phones of the 1960s and 1970s were analog

    • No extra latency

  • Probably not these, either

    • All these things are very important – necessary

    • But they don’t seem to be sufficient


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The mass adoption barrier

  • Video conferencing is a successful niche

    • But very far from mass adoption (< 1%)

  • Video telephony hasn’t succeeded yet

    • Yet, clearly there is a market desire!

  • Current issues do not explain past failures

    • Standards, connectivity were solved for videophones

    • Latency was not a problem in the analog world

  • Then what is required for success?

    • Why have users not yet embraced video telephony?


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Fiction creates expectations

Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1926)


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Fiction reflects expectations

  • Where are the cameras?

  • This is impossible with today’s video

  • But it is expected

The Jetsons (Hanna-Barbera, 1962)

The Jetsons (Hanna-Barbera, 1962)


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Perfect framing, perfect lighting

Star Trek (Paramount, 1967)


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Nobody is nervous “on camera”

  • Actors look straight into the camera

  • Professional cinematography / videography

  • Multiple camera positions & zooms

  • Directors choose the best shots

2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)


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Real video is not like fictional video


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What will it take for mass adoption?

  • More than just:

    • Cost

    • Latency

    • Reliability

    • Connectivity

    • Resolution

    • Picture size

    • Ease of use

  • These are all necessary, but not sufficient


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What is the problem, then?


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Quality of Experience

  • The “sense of being there” is disappointing

    • At least, weaker than people expect & want

  • VC is not enough like being in the same place

    • Eye contact

    • Peripheral vision

    • Depth perception

    • Awareness of framing

    • Perceived distance to other people

    • Ability to interrupt

    • Certainly other things, too


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Video is much harder than it seems

  • Video is not “just another channel”

    • Text, audio, video, right? Wrong.

  • Far-end can’t tell where you put the keyboard

  • Microphone location is not very important

  • The camera location matters

    • Each person has a different viewpoint

    • People direct their gaze at each other

    • People are aware when others look at them

    • Viewpoints matter


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George Jetson & Mr. Spacely

  • Study this image

  • It illustrates a lot about what consumers expect from video telecommunication


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George Jetson & Mr. Spacely

  • Mr. Spacely is much larger than Jetson

  • That is because Mr. Spacely is the boss


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George Jetson & Mr. Spacely

  • Jetson is not thinkingabout whether he’s still in the frame

  • Even though he’s jumped out of his seat


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George Jetson & Mr. Spacely

  • Mr. Spacely appears very close to Jetson

    • A confrontational distance

    • Not at the opposite end of a room

  • This is why he’s jumped out of his seat


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George Jetson & Mr. Spacely

  • Mr. Spacely’s image is above Jetson

  • This, also, is because Spacely is the boss


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George Jetson & Mr. Spacely

  • We expect that Spacely has peripheral vision

    • Spacely could tellif we (the viewer) were in the room

  • We feel Spacely could look at us if he wanted to


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George Jetson & Mr. Spacely

  • We can tell who Mr. Spacely is looking at

  • Jetson and Spacely have eye contact


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George Jetson & Mr. Spacely

  • But we, the viewer, do not have eye contact with either of them

  • Because they are looking at each other, not us

  • If we were in the room, this would feel natural


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George Jetson & Mr. Spacely

  • The artist knows all this without being told

  • But video engineers do not


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Video viewpoints & perspectives

  • Image size matters

  • Display distance matters

    • These depend on each other

    • And on type of conversation

  • Camera height matters

    • Face above camera = Dominant

      • like Mr. Spacely

      • Judges and kings sit up high

  • There is no single “right” answer

    • People can either stand or sit

    • Multiple viewers in different positions

1984 (Apple Computer, 1984)

V for Vendetta (James McTeigue, 2006)


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Framing

  • Mother (Albert Brooks, 1996)

    • Rob Morrow and Debbie Reynolds on videophone

  • In film & TV, directors choose the right shot

    • And change shots

    • To focus attention on what is important

  • Consciousness of framing can be distracting

  • Loose enough for freedom of movement

  • Enough detail & size to see faces clearly

    • Difficult to achieve both at the same time

    • Main achievement of today’s “telepresence” systems


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Perceived interpersonal distance

  • Critical for natural-feeling conversation

  • Controlled by size and distance of image

  • “Right” distance varies by type of conversation

    • Intimate, professional, adversarial, etc.

    • Some cultural dependence


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More stuff

  • Peripheral vision

    • Who is there

    • Who is looking at us

    • Who is paying attention

    • Who is trying to interrupt

  • Side conversations

  • Depth perception

    • Focus

    • Parallax


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Why is this so complicated?

  • Voice telephony doesn’t have these problems

    • So why does adding video make things worse?

  • Because people are evolved to talk in the dark

    • This is why using the telephone feels natural

  • Because video is not “just another channel”

    • But that’s how engineers usually think about it

    • It’s something very different

  • The visual communications experience is expected to feel more natural and intuitive


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The 3% Solution


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What the market really wants:Telepresence

  • The real thing – “like being there”

  • Today’s telepresence is a big improvement

    • Picture size and quality are clearly sufficient

    • Peripheral vision & framing are solved

    • High expense limits market size

  • Mass acceptance requires high Quality of Experienceat an affordable cost

  • Under 1% of the potential market is served now

    • Even small improvements can make a big difference

    • Start by getting to 3%


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Telepresence = Innovation Opportunity

  • Telepresence market is not as cost sensitive

    • But very interested in real improvements

    • Tech will trickle down to lower-cost systems later

  • It doesn’t have to be perfect – just a little better

    • Remember, 3% is the goal (!)

  • How to get there? Prototype many ideas

    • Tinker, experiment … try out lots of ideas

    • We all think our untested ideas will work!

    • Yet most new ideas fail

    • So build them & test them – cheaply

    • Prototypes, not products


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Few

Usable by anyone

Reliable

Interoperable

Cheap in volume

Automated with software

Many

Usable by builders only

Clunky

Unique

Expensive (build just 2)

Run manually by people

Products vs. Prototypes

Products

Prototypes

  • Take risks, but ones you can afford – prototypes

    • Most new ideas are no good

    • If it’s not risky, it’s not innovation


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Example – CNN “hologram”, 2008-11-04

  • Not really a hologram

  • I don’t claim this is practical

  • Shows only that more is possible than we are accustomed to

    (clip)

  • Maybe better not to ask how it works

    • Use it as an inspiration – how can you make it work?


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Try something new

Seek improvement

Tinker

Prototype

Use off-the-shelf tech

Listen to end-users

Lead the market

Focus on un-served 99%

Repeat past failures

Despair at imperfection

Theorize

Commit to untried ideas

Push existing envelope

Listen to customers

Follow the competition

Focus on existing 1%

Parting advice

Do

Don’t

  • Someone will get there & collect the pot of gold

    • Why not you?


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Thank you!


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