[Added 3/21/20 – Note, the above interview was filmed in December 2004 and has been on the Viodi.com website in the form of WMV files since then. This is being uploaded to YouTube now, as this footage has historical value since 8×8 and Bryan Martin were pioneers in creating a video telephone priced for the consumer (Worldgate had it’s Ojo phone around the same time period, although it was much more expensive than what 8×8 offered).
It’s hard to believe, but this conversation occurred almost 3 years before the introduction of the iPhone and at a time when approximately only 13 to 17% of the U.S. population had broadband subscriptions according to data from the World Bank (on a per household basis, this number was a little more than double that amount given the number of people per typical household), The same data suggested that broadband was defined as only 256 kilobits/second, which in today’s gigabit/second world, is slower than slow.
Although the underlying technology has changed evolved and dedicated hardware devices have given way to phone cameras and webcams, the above conversation remains evergreen in that we are still seeing the cultural ramifications of using interactive video to augment human interactions, particularly during this time of COVID-19 pandemic and forced shutdown. (see this interview with Bryan from 3/19/20 as reference.]
I recently had the chance to sit down, sort of, with Bryan Martin, Chairman of 8×8, Incorporated, the company behind the Packet 8 VoIP services. In the case of Packet 8, the “V” stands for both Voice and Video. Instead of meeting in the same location, we used Packet 8 DV326 video phones. In my month-long review of the Packet 8 video telephony solution, I found the quality of the service offering to be as good, if not better than my previous review of Packet 8’s voice-only offering.
Our conversation was recorded on a PC and recompressed using a 256k Windows Media profile. Despite this double encoding process, the video is quite good. It is important to remember that the broadband connection I used typically provides upstream/downstream bandwidths of less than 300 kb/s, so there weren’t a lot of bits to compress my ugly mug.
Also during the course of our conversation, just after I asked Martin about whether the Packet 8 video phones might someday interoperate with PCs, my PC recording program crashed; pretty ironic. One might also note my rather disheveled appearance. I purposely dressed in such informal attire and made sure my hair was unkempt to show the challenges of introducing video into the remote worker environment….normally, I do try to make a better appearance when I have guests.
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