Hard or Soft — Codec that is.

What do you think of when you hear the words ‘video conferencing’? Most people associate it with common cell phone applications such as Apple’s facetime and multi-platform apps like skype and whatsapp. But these platforms are not very common in enterprise environments. For many years small and large businesses have used what are known in the Audio Visual industry as hard codecs to utilize video conferencing as a means to communicate across their network.

These dedicated video conferencing devices allowed for consistent quality audio and video calls over the network. Companies like Polycom, Tandberg (now cisco) and Lifesize presented businesses with various options depending on budget (not that they were ever cheap) , call quality and various other options. These hardware devices made it easy for AV integrators to turn office spaces into telepresence rooms and even telepresence centers. Allowing many people to participate in video conference calls across the globe. Before long, companies had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to even millions on hardware in order to reliably make video calls across their network to across the globe.

Enter the soft video codec… The soft codec is a video conferencing software that can run on pc’s or mobile devices and gives the user the ability to connect with other users with the same software and an internet connection. Initially these devices were far behind the video and audio quality provided by dedicated VC codecs. But as mobile tech has gotten better and smaller the soft codec has increasingly become a worthy adversary to the dependable hardware codecs that have obtained the vast market share of business conference rooms. One of these up and coming soft platforms has to be zoom video conferencing. In just a short amount of time, zoom has moved from the consumer or single user market to the enterprise market and it is throwing a curveball in the game.

Zoom isnt just offering reliable video and audio calling across the internet, it is also providing an easier interface in order to do it. Zoom has leveraged the fact that they started as an easy to use consumer product to facilitate the user experience on their enterprise solutions. To put the cherry on top, zoom leverages interactive displays to allow touch control of the zoom interface.

The question is, are the big hardware codec houses going to attempt to compete formidably on the software codec platform? We’ll be on the lookout and share it in our proAV corner.