Doing more with video chats
What it is: Launched at DEMOfall 09 last month, the HP SkyRoom software allows
for high-definition videoconferencing for employees
at their desk. Going beyond a simple Webcam chat, the SkyRoom software
lets participants share multimedia files with each other
(as many as four people can participate in a SkyRoom session). Unlike
WebEx and other online meeting services, there's no subscription
fee with SkyRoom, just the one-time software charge.
also comes pre-installed free on the company's Z800, Z600, Z400 and
xw4600 workstations. Other PCs and notebooks from HP coming soon will
include a free 90-day trial of SkyRoom. Like many instant messaging
tools (including Skype), SkyRoom sessions can be launched quickly from
a buddy list.
Why it's cool: The ability to show multimedia files within a video chat
session was impressive -- in our tests, we could share a movie
trailer and a supplied computer-aided design animation without any
latency or jitter in the video. The video and audio quality was
definitely better than a standard Skype chat session.
Some caveats: Participants can only use SkyRoom if they're connected to
the same business network. People in two different geographic locations
can only use SkyRoom if one of them has a VPN tunnel into the
corporate network. HP says at least 1Mbps of bandwidth is needed
between the sites
for a single point-to-point connection. Businesses that are
firewalled off from each other can't use a SkyRoom video conference.
downside: the ability to collaborate with colleagues is basically a
"read only" scenario -- I could share a video or any part of my desktop
colleague, but the colleague couldn't "take over" and then edit or
utilize the desktop (other Webconferencing services let participants
share in this manner)
Bottom line: I can see employees using this for meetings where
face-to-face contact is helpful, but collaboration is limited to "see
what I've done
here and tell me what you think" situations, rather than, "Here, see
what I've done and you make the corrections." Standard "share the
sessions that require a videoconference setting would also
benefit from SkyRoom.
Grade: 3.5 stars (out of five)
The scoop: Zorap Facebook application, by Zorap, free.
What it is: Launched a few months ago as a stand-alone
application/service, Zorap lets you create multimedia chat rooms, in
which you can share photos,
music, videos and files within a Web-based space. The latest
version includes this functionality within Facebook, so you can create
a Zorap-enabled chat
room with your Facebook login credentials.
Why it's cool: The Zorap "room" includes a video chat, and the ability
to share photos,
music, video and other files stored on your PC with other
attendees. In addition, you can share YouTube video
clips, imeem music streams and Google images. The Flash-based
interface lets you move the components
around during the chat, and Zorap can support as many as 50
simultaneous sessions (although we only tried it with two people). It's
a great way to get a
bunch of friends together to chat and share multimedia with
Some caveats: I'd like to see a "Web page" button that brings up a Web
browser for sharing. The site isn't really designed for serious business
collaboration, but like IM, this is something that could
bubble up through the company.