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Vivu Brings HD Multiparty Videoconferencing To iPhone, iPad

Startup stakes claim to being the first with such a sophisticated video app for the iPhone.
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Startup Vivu says it will soon ship the first high-definition multiparty videoconferencing solution for both the iPad 2 and iPhone 4.

The apps are still awaiting approval for distribution from the Apple App Store and will be free downloads for Vivu customers. Company officials said they were anxious to get the word out for this "first," even with Apple's approval still pending. Only FuzeBox and WebEx currently have comparable applications for the iPad, and Vivu will be the first to also include the iPhone, they said.

The company has been hearing demand for mobile support, "especially on the iPhone because it's so convenient," said Siva Kiran, founder & CTO.

[Three out of four companies are expected to be using video conferencing in the next few years. Here are some of the reasons why.]

Vivu videoconferences can include as many as six to eight participants, with thumbnail images of each participant displayed across the bottom of the screen. These sessions can also include screen sharing and slide presentations as well (see video).

Vivu is based on a bandwidth conserving "dynamic peer-to-peer" technology, which avoids the need for the video mixing equipment required for traditional videoconferences--although Vivu does also provide some cloud services to help accelerate slow connections.

To work well with limited bandwidth, Vivu makes some tradeoffs. During a demo, I noticed that the thumbnail images of the other participants froze at one point when a presentation was being shown--a matter of prioritization where audio and presentation slides get priority over video and the featured or maximized video gets priority over thumbnails.

Vivu also makes allowances for the screen size and capability of each device when figuring out bit rates and priorities. "We try to send you the best quality video you can get on your device without affecting others," Kiran said.

Vivu got some attention last year for offering a Skype plugin that allowed users of that service to participate in Vivu calls. However, as Vivu has worked to gain traction in the enterprise computing market, it has shifted its focus to plugins for Microsoft Lync and its predecessor, Microsoft Office Communicator.

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