Blue Jeans Network wants video meetings to be commonplace

One year after its launch, Blue Jeans Network has expanded the reach of its interoperable videoconferencing service and secured a third round of funding worth $25 million.

The company’s goal: making video meetings as functional as a pair of blue jeans.

Users of the service can access a meeting through Skype, Google, Microsoft Lync, Polycom, Cisco, traditional phone and now directly through their web browser. My interview with the Blue Jeans Network executives was a perfect test of Blue Jeans’ interoperability, with the four members of the conference on Skype, Polycom, a web browser and a landline phone.

Blue Jeans’ recent launch of a web browser platform increases the number of people who can join video meetings by more than 2.3 billion, its executives said. Access now requires only a webcam and Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari. Installing necessary plugins takes about 20 to 30 seconds, chief commercial officer Stu Aaron said.

Blue Jeans Network has also expanded its partnerships to include Cisco Jabber, Cisco TelePresence Systems and native SIP support. Aaron said the company’s approach to developing its platform has been “client-agnostic” so that users have the most options possible.

From science fiction to desktop for telepresence

Star Trek

Telepresence was science fiction in the 50s, a Disneyland attraction in the 60s, and eventually morphed into costly corporate “telepresence rooms” and other high-end systems, which relied on expensive dedicated communications lines.

Vidyo, a start-up company in New Jersey, says it has invented the next generation of teleconferencing that is cheaper and more portable, in part by using the Web to transmit, getting around the need for special communications lines and instead using the Web. It says that it will make teleconferencing available in offices, homes and hotels – and not just in boardrooms.

“Our product is a breakthrough to democratize telepresence and make it more affordable and portable,”  said Ofer Shapiro, chief executive of Vidyo.  Shapiro knows the earlier generation. He led the design team at Radvision in the 1990s that designed a key piece of equipment called a Multipoint Control Unit, or MCU, still in use today. Shapiro thinks it  obsolete.