Did you know that a startup called Vidyo powers Gmail’s video chat feature? Not many people do, and that seems to be by design. There’s a tiny little reference to Vidyo’s participation in the product when you install it, though when I talked to Vidyo today they said they don’t comment about the deal publicly. Google built a web client around Vidyo’s system and launched it nearly exactly a year ago; I for one am grateful to whoever powers the functionality to turn my text chats with my sister in Montreal into video; face-to-face is so much better.
Today Vidyo did comment on something else though: the Hackensack, NJ-based company announced that it has secured a patent for the technology that underlies the telepresence service it provides Google and other customers: “System and Method for a Conference Server Architecture for Low Delay and Distributed Conferencing Applications.” Vidyo’s technology treats every participant in a conference individually so as to give each the best capable up-stream and down-stream experience at any one moment by adjusting bitrates and resolutions dynamically (Google limits its implementation to only two people, but Vidyo can accommodate many more). Through its architecture and the new H.264/SVC video compression standard, Vidyo avoids requiring a centralized multipoint control unit (MCU), as most videoconference systems do.
That means no special equipment, and it also means a remarkable lack of latency; I talked to Vidyo SVP marketing Marty Hollander today using the company’s Mac app for video and my cellphone for audio (not an ideal situation, but our office bandwidth was acting up) and amazingly, his voice and picture were just about perfectly in sync. All you should really need is solid broadband and a webcam. The company, which launched in Jan. 08, is also included in Hitachi’s video conferencing products and Teleris’ telepresence room systems. Check out the charmingly hokey video demo embedded below:
Vidyo has 84 employees and has raised a total of $45 million, including $15 million earlier this year in a round led by Menlo Ventures with Rho Ventures, Sevin Rosen Funds and Star Ventures. When it was founded four years ago it was called “Layered Media.”