By Alok Saboo on February 24th, 2012
Online video collaboration has been touted as next big thing for some time now. However, the exorbitant costs and the lack of supporting infrastructure prevented group video conferencing from taking off. That was until now. VSee, founded by a team of Stanford University scientists and network experts is seeking to revolutionize the online collaboration space and seems to be ready to take on the Ciscos of the world. Since winning the Demo God Award at DEMO 2006, VSee has come a long away and is now ready for the prime time.
Getting started with VSee
Before, I discuss all the features, it is worthwhile to highlight a few points about how VSee works. Instead of the relying on a centralized infrastructure VSee uses a managed peer-to-peer architecture to allow mass deployment without infrastructure upgrades and at the same time overcomes the security issues of Skype. If you are in a group call, VSee establishes multiple secured two-way calls.
You can literally get started with your first VSee call in less than 2 minutes. Create a new account, download the VSee client and you are good to go. The VSee client itself is extremely light weight and does not require administrative privileges to run (i.e., VSee is completely portable and can run off your thumb drive). You can invite your collaborators from within the app and they will show up in your contacts.
If you want to initiate a two-way meeting, just click on the contact. If you want to initiate a multi-party meeting, click the Collaboration icon (lower right on your local video window) and then Start Meeting to add participants to the meeting. Alternately, you can group your contacts and start a meeting from the address book.
Online Collaboration using VSee
Once inside a meeting, you can see the video of each of the participants laid out in a grid.
As you can imagine, the Collaboration button provides access to all the features that make your virtual meeting come alive. You can start a Group Chat session to exchange notes; share an individual application or the entire desktop with all the participants; and record your session. Given the way VSee operates, the Record feature records each two-way conversation in a separate file. Thus, you may need to carry out minor post-processing to combine all the recordings in a single file. This is a minor price to pay for the enterprise-grade security that VSee offers.
Application sharing is probably the most powerful feature that VSee offers. You can share the entire desktop or choose to selectively share a particular application (e.g., Word document or Excel file). To share an application, click the "Share" button on the upper-right corner of the window you would like to share. You can share multiple applications. It is equally easy to Un-share an application.
Once you have shared an application, VSee offers additional options to annotate and pass control to other participants. The Take Control option allows one to remotely control the host computer.
You can Transfer Files by simply dragging and dropping files on to the other participant’s window. Please note that to maintain security your documents are not transferred to all the participants, you can choose whom to transfer documents.
The Settings tab allows you to test and setup your Audio and Video. You can change your video resolution from 240 x 320 pixels to up to HD 720p and also adjust your frame rate (or let it be automatically adjusted based on your network conditions). You can also see your network and other statistics related to the call.
This review will not be complete without talking about the security aspect of VSee. Milton Chen, CEO of VSee and a co-author of the XMPP protocol, developed VSee with security as the number one requirement. VSee uses end-to-end encryption without any middleman and several other aspects to ensure that your video conference is 100% secure. It is not surprising, then, that VSee is currently used by the most demanding customers including the United Nations, NASA, and the Navy SEALs. Further, VSee is also HIPAA compliant.
The following video provides an overview of some of the features that VSee has to offer.
VSee offers all this and more for FREE!!!
With all these features VSee can definitely give many of the commercial conferencing system a run for their money. But, VSee is offering all these great features for free, even for commercial usage. There are absolutely no restrictions in terms of number of users or other features.
VSee only charges for premium features and support. VSee’s peer-to-peer architecture ensures that it does not incur significant charges for every additional user, allowing it to provide its services for free.
To say that I am blown away by VSee will not be an understatement. VSee may not be the most beautiful conferencing app out there, but it provides a rich set of features without complicating things. Hidden behind its simple interface, VSee offers a very powerful and feature-rich solution that should serve even the demanding enterprise users well. For most users, there is literally no deployment cost – your existing hardware should serve you well, unless you want lot of participants (>20). VSee uses a network sensing algorithm to be light on the network, i.e., VSee does not slow down other network traffic.
You can use VSee on your PC or Mac right now and a iOS client is expected shortly (keep an eye). If you are looking for a video conferencing/collaboration solution, I would strongly urge you to consider VSee – you will be pleasantly surprised!!