For over a century, have envisioned a future where telephone conversations will take place as actual face-to-face encounters with video as well as audio. Sometimes it is simply not possible or practical to have face-to-face meetings with two or more people. Sometimes a telephone conversation or conference call is adequate. Other times, an exchanges are adequate. However, videoconferencing adds another possible alternative, and can be considered when:
- a live conversation is needed;
- visual information is an important component of the conversation;
- the parties of the conversation can't physically come to the same location; or
- the expense or time of travel is a consideration.
Mass adoption and use of videoconferencing is still relatively low, with the following often claimed as causes:
- Complexity of systems. Most users are not technical and want a simple interface. In hardware systems an unplugged cord or a flat battery in a remote control is seen as failure, contributing to perceived unreliability which drives users back to traditional meetings. Successful systems are backed by support teams who can pro-actively support and provide fast assistance when required.
- Perceived lack of interoperability: not all systems can readily interconnect, for example ISDN and IP systems require a gateway. Popular software solutions cannot easily connect to hardware systems. Some systems use different standards, features and qualities which can require additional configuration when connecting to dis-similar systems.
- Bandwidth and quality of service: In some countries it is difficult or expensive to get a high quality connection that is fast enough for good-quality video conferencing. Technologies such as ADSL have limited upload speeds and cannot upload and download simultaneously at full speed. As Internet speeds increase higher quality and high definition video conferencing will become more readily available.
- Expense of commercial systems - a well designed system requires a specially designed room and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fit out the room with codecs, integration equipment and furniture.
- Participants being self-conscious about being on camera, especially new users and older generations.
- Lack of eye contact (as mentioned in Problems)