Case Study

A one- hour video conference held between IIED, London and RECOFTC, Bangkok. August 2008

IIED used a hardware video conferencing system with a single centre table conferencing microphone. RECOFTC used a laptop with the audio-out connected to their conference room’s speaker PA system and the video-out connected to an LCD projector, a medium quality webcam on a tripod, wireless home karaoke microphones and a copy of Polycom PVX software, a solution costing less than USD200 in addition to existing available hardware. Both IIED and RECOFTC subscribe to internet bandwidths in excess of 
1 Gbit/sec, but this was not fully dedicated to the meeting.

Tests were carried out before the meeting and it was established that the old daisy chain wired conference microphone system in RECOFTC’s meeting room was not clear enough. The home quality wireless microphones, bought for less than USD20, were then tested and proved to be much sharper, with less hiss or feedback.

Through the Polycom software RECOFTC could control the video camera at IIED with both zoom and pan options. This option was not available with the webcam at RECOFTC. The Polycom software only supports a limited range of USB cameras, of which some may provide this panning or zooming option for the viewer.

IIED hosted the system for eight participants and RECOFTC fifteen. During the meeting the video was quite clear and dynamic and the audio crisp. The participants–for many which this was their first experience of this kind of meeting – were relaxed and after a while, natural.

Although the wireless microphones had to be handed between speakers and were not the first choice for the audio input device at RECOFTC, they did not suffer from over- sensitivity

 issues experienced at times from the IIED system. Each cough and dropped pen were very clearly heard at RECOFTC. This did not detract from the meeting experience significantly; it is just an observation of the differences between the systems.