When sending a telegraph over a wire replaced dispatching messengers across long distances on horseback, interpersonal communication changed forever. Ever since, people have looked for even better and faster ways to keep in touch, especially when doing business with each other. Today's videoconferencing is a mashup of phone, video and network technology that lets geographically distant colleagues hold meetings as if they were all in the same room.
Videoconferencing combines a telephone call with video captured by a camera at the caller's location. When the caller dials in to a conference call, the video and voice are sent together across a network connection. Each caller who dials in to the same conference call is capturing video and voice of himself or herself during the event and observing the video and audio streaming from other participants. In terms of current technology, this means that participants are watching, listening and talking to a computer screen throughout the conference. Perhaps in the future, however, videoconferencing will look like something out of science fiction, with 3-D holograms of participants sitting around a real conference table.
Part of the videoconferencing technology mashup is Voice over IP (VoIP). Thanks to its use of the Internet, VoIP introduces the ability for a seemingly unlimited number of callers to dial in to a single video conference call. Plus, by using VoIP over a high-speed Internet connection, callers have the bandwidth and speeds needed to stream video and audio for real-time interaction.
Videoconferencing is just one technology that could be part of the next mashup.