Free videoconferencing (for now)

Belgian software company Androme has used its Intellivic software development kit to create a videoconferencing service.
Called Vidivic, the service is currently free of charge. Technically, it’s still in beta trials, but …

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10th November 2007 at 10:36 am

Belgian software company Androme has used its Intellivic software development kit to create a videoconferencing service.

Called Vidivic, the service is currently free of charge. Technically, it’s still in beta trials, but it works. And it works rather well.

Providing you have a webcam (I rushed out and bought a Logitech QuickCam that clips onto my laptop for £30), an internet connection and someone to talk to, away you go.

You provide the date and time of the proposed conference plus the emails of up to eight other participants. They’re all notified and they can join in at the appointed hour by going to the Vidivic home page. If any of them are away from their computer, they can still participate by dialling in to the service.

Because the software uses Microsoft controls, it means that the present version has to run in Internet Explorer. Versions for Firefox and other browsers are in the works. This is usually not a big deal. If you open in the wrong browser, it tells you straight away. But most people have a copy of Internet Explorer knocking around somewhere.

When running, you see your co-conspirators in little windows which can be expanded up to 250 percent. Here’s Vidivic’s Kristof Thys and me in action:

Videoconferencing with Vidivic's Kristof Thys

Videoconferencing might seem pointless, after all, we’ve had the telephone for years. But you miss the visual cues that you get with face to face communications. Sometimes it’s good to see the mood, attentiveness, or whatever of whoever you’re talking with. The expanded mode is helpful if you want to show drawings, documents or objects. Some people have even used Vidivic for sign-language communication. It’s snappy enough with a decent camera.

Videoconferencing cannot replace all face to face communication, of course, but it can almost certainly slash your travel and, possibly, accommodation budgets. It undoubtedly saves time. It shrinks your company’s carbon footprint. And, right now, the Vidivic service is free.

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David Tebbutt is an award-winning columnist and feature writer who specialises on the subject of using software and technology to increase business productivity. He's an analyst with Freeform Dynamics but, in previous lives, wrote for Director magazine, Real Business and was also editor of Personal Computer World. http://freeformdynamics.com

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