IT Expo: Brightcom and Big Green Buttons
A New Twist on Telepresence.
While at IT Expo, I had the pleasure of meeting Bob McCandless, the CEO of Brightcom, a Huntington Beach CA designer and manufacturer of HD video and telepresence systems. Bob and I conducted the interview at the trade show version of the company’s L37 telepresence suite which was in a very well-trafficked intersection of the show aisles for very effective placement. The trade show version displayed simulated participants and didn’t have the private enclosure wrapper since the table and the trio of 37 inch monitors were exposed to the aisle to attract pedestrians.
The L37 and its larger L65 use the 3-camera, 3 monitor and octagonal table shown in the figure at right which were professionally finished and simply implemented, so they’ll last a long time and will keep the users happy. There is no ceiling to the product since it would demand special fire management / suppression installations increasing the cost of the suite, but with the door on the side, meetings can be easily conducted in confidence and privacy without a ceiling. This is a well-constructed room-in-a-room design.
Brightcom offers an attractive price point as compared with competitive multi-user meeting systems at only a third of the price of systems from the other vendors.
But the innovation is in the Visual Collaboration System.
This 1U SIP conferencing server eliminates the need for H.239 monitor-sharing and sits at the heart of any enterprise deployment of Brightcom products. For hardware and base licensing priced at $10,000 which supports as few as 10 concurrent web conferencing licenses and five rooms (more costs more) or as many as 16-users in a MCU application, the VCS allows video participants to collaborate using both data sharing and video control all from the PC browser. Most users bring their laptops to telepresence sessions, and it is from the PC that they can control the collaboration and the video session. Once in the room, users point the browser at the VCS where they authenticate themselves and define their room location. After that, they use the scheduler or directory to initiate the appropriately defined video session by pushing the big, green button.
Using the VCS controls, the meeting originator/presenter can choose which monitor displays the data sharing presentation or how the screens are aligned. Similarly, users at the other end of the communication can similarly choose how to present the data. No extra monitors are required.
Very powerful integration of video and web conferencing. Significantly, the VCS also supports web conferencing for users not present in a telepresence room who may be web conferencing in from a hotel room, a home office or a more traditional video conferencing implementation.
Brightcom’s portfolio includes 42 or 52 inch flat panel monitors:
- 2-monitor systems called the ClearView 2000HD
- single-monitor systems called the ClearView 1000HD
- 2-monitor ‘roly’ systems called the ClearView 2000CHD
- single-monitor ‘roly’ systems called the ClearView 1000CHD
- PC web cam
- PC video booster card
- and an echo-canceling conference speaker phone
The Challenge Isn’t Technology.
Clearly Brightcom has rapidly engineered a competitive product line and integrated industry standard endpoint equipment with proprietary VCS server software. But that’s the only factor that needs to be working well to enable a successful and growing video business.
As it turns out, channel and customers are the challenge. Like enterprise unified communications products with big price tags and long life cycles, video communications buyers and the dealers they rely on are pretty well known and well serviced by the Poly-BERG (and sometimes Cisco) duopoly in our market.
Starting with a focused direct sales team, Brightcom is correctly investing in winning business one customer at a time. The Los Angeles Police Department is one such customer and there are many others. Although the LAPD serves the City of Los Angeles, it is a large metropolitan area where it can take 30 minutes to travel 5 miles, and as shown in The Value of Video Communications report users are willing to pay MORE per meeting-hour to avoid travel in same-day meetings than the overnight or week-long cross-continent trips because that 5-miles there and back are such a pain and waste of time.
That’s also why we get the chance to meet Brightcom at trade shows and conferences like IT Expo, because here’s where they hope to find new customers and new resellers looking to break into the market.
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