From 10,000 feet to zero: Closing the distance with video conferencing

by Michael Helmbrecht, Vice President of Product Marketing, LifeSize

Often it is the simple idea well executed that has the greatest impact on us.  Case in point: Here I am at 35,000 feet, typing this blog post via American Airlines Wi-Fi service.  It’s a simple idea:  Mount a wireless antennae and Wi-Fi base station to every plane in the fleet, contract with an outsourced service provider, and presto, you have a convenient, easy to use service that customers like me and the man next to me in 19B are willing to shell out $10 per flight to use.  It works well and is reasonably priced for me to buy myself a few hours of productivity while my neighbor gets to catch up on the replay of the Blackhawks game. In fact, he and I are so bought in to the offering that we had our laptops and our credit cards out waiting for them to turn it on at 10,000 feet.

When I look at the potential for communication to fundamentally change how we live and work, the same concepts apply. Simple ideas, executed well, tend to prevail over those that are complex, frustrating and expensive.  In video communication we’ve made great strides in the last five years.  High Definition video over IP networks have become easier to use, the quality is compelling, and the price points are more attractive than ever before.  Market awareness of video communication is at an all time high thanks to TV and movie use of consumer video chat services, advertising, and increasing adoption of HD video conferencing in businesses, schools, governments and in healthcare. But we still have a long way to go.  We need to enable communication across distances that is affordable and accessible to everyone, even easier to use and manage, and where the quality of experience, to paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke, “is indistinguishable from magic.”

At LifeSize, that’s our mission.  You’ll see us make major strides forward in the coming months.  How will we know when we’re succeeding?  When anyone, anywhere can communicate in HD as easily as making a phone call.  And when each of us spends more time achieving our goals where we want to be instead of working on Wi-Fi at 35,000 feet next to someone watching the Blackhawks game.

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