Technology on social issues of videoconferencing on the Internet: a survey

M. Kouadio, U. Pooch
2002 Journal of Network and Computer Applications  
Constant advances in audio/video compression, the development of the multicast protocol as well as fast improvement in computing devices (e.g. higher speed, larger memory) have set forth the opportunity to have resource demanding videoconferencing (VC) sessions on the Internet. Multicast is supported by the multicast backbone (Mbone), which is a special portion of the Internet where this protocol is being deployed. Mbone VC tools are steadily emerging and the user population is growing fast. VC
more » ... is a fascinating application that has the potential to greatly impact the way we remotely communicate and work. That has many people forecast a signi®cantly widespread adoption. Yet, the adoption of VC is not as fast as one could have predicted. Hence, it is important to examine the factors that affect a widespread adoption of VC. This paper examines the enabling technology and the social issues. It discusses the achievements and identi®es the future challenges. It suggests an integration of many emerging multimedia tools into VC in order to enhance its versatility for more effectiveness. time transmission and sharing of information among a distributed group of people cooperating in a common activity, such as design, learning, entertainment, telemedicine etc. VC is fundamentally an interdisciplinary application that requires input from at least four different computing ®elds. First, coding and compression for audio and video delivery in order to minimize the volume of data sent over bandwidth-limited networks. Second, the transmission requires real-time networking protocols in order to ensure a guaranteed and predictable delivery of loss unforgiving video and audio data. Next, VC is fundamentally an application for group interactions, therefore it is important to understand the social dynamics and psychology of group cooperation and that falls under the umbrella of Computer-Supported Collaborative Work. Finally, the importance of adequate interface design cannot be overstated and thus, the ®eld of Computer--Human Interaction comes into play. At least, all these four need to be integrated to build a robust and usable VC system. Various factors affect VC performance: end point computer performance, network link capacity and delay, network congestion status and the inherent time complexity of the compression/decompression algorithms. Moreover, receivers may be on heterogeneous networks and systems that differ by their capacities, hence, introducing con¯icting Quality of Service (QoS) requirements. This paper is a modest contribution to the understanding of some current issues in VC. It reviews the enabling technology and the social issues involved with videoconferencing. It makes some few suggestions for future research efforts. Namely, providing more¯exibility can enhance VC. Furthermore, the incorporation of features to keep the history of VC sessions cannot only help participants, but also provide valuable inputs for an organization memory. It argues that informality should not be seen as an option but a crucial feature if VC is to become very popular. It examines the transmission requirements in the light of the recent proposals for QoS on the Internet. It identi®es the support for mobile collaboration as a potentially fertile option for the future of VC. The requirements for effective and versatile VC are eventually proposed in the light of these considerations. The enabling technology 2.1 The need for data compression VC requires both video and audio signals. Yet, providing video and audio communication over computer networks poses speci®c challenges to overcome. Unlike simple text data sent during email or ®le transfer, video for instance is highly bandwidth consuming. On a computer screen with a typical resolution of 640 by 480, each video pixel may be coded with 24 bits for its RGB (Red-Green-Blue) components. Furthermore, smooth live images require about 24--30 frames per second, which translates into a bandwidth requirement of about 177 Mbps for uncompressed video images. Current LAN capacity varies from 10 to 100 Mbps. A typical individual Internet user has a dial-up modem of 14--56 Kbps and new cable 38 M. Kouadio and U. Pooch
doi:10.1006/jnca.2002.0125 fatcat:npj6qgyz5rbsfn4wl4ubnj3qcu