Video conferencing for free is here - I think

Many entrepreneurs I meet increasingly work as remote teams i.e. each person works from a different location, but is able to easily interact via devices like IM, skype, whiteboards, collaborations tools etc. Facetime together is limited to maybe a few half days or days per week.

Whilst I too use such tools, there is much to be said for "looking the other person in the eye" when chatting a concept over. So I will opt for video chat whenever I can (assuming meeting in person isn't an option).

For person-to-person video chat, skype is fine or MSN. But neither of these support multi-person. Hence, I usually opt to use userplane in these situations, which can be fiddly.

However, there has been a rush of new players recently, focussed on live broadcast from webcams, that I suspect could also be used for meetings and video conferencing.

Operator11
is one such free service, providing a fairly simple method to hook up a Webcam and get going. It also lets you upload video clips but it's the capability to have multiple people drop in and out of a live broadcast, controlled from the browser, that most interested me.

You can also record, embed, and share their shows with others with 40 minutes recording time per "show"/meeting available for free.

Two other services I'm also trying are Mogulus and BlogTV. These have both been reviewed by Techcrunch recently.

The main problem I've encountered is that only the controller appears to have the option to see everything that's going on in one screen, and swap back and forth between Webcams on the fly ala TV show producer. I've yet to determine how to have all participants visible to everyone, rather than flipping the camera shot between people.

If this works, it would also make an excellent solution for most corporates too - most big companies rarely have enough meeting rooms for all the meetings people want to hold. If they gave everyone a webcam (leaving bandwidth issues aside), people needn't leave their desks to participate in meetings and voila, space problem over. It would also make impromptu meetings far easier to hold, not to mention the recording feature would ensure there was a record of decision reached (or is that an unlikely outcome at a meeting in a big company?)

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posted by John Wilson @ 10:32 AM Permanent Link newsvine reddit



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