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Altia Systems Has a Fix for Low-Cost Video Conferencing

The $600 PanaCast puck may take some of the pain out of video conferencing

1 min read
Altia Systems Has a Fix for Low-Cost Video Conferencing

As a telecommuter, I’m on the far end of a lot of conference calls. Unfortunately, high quality video conferencing hardware is a bit beyond our budget. We’ve tried a staff-built, two-camera contraption, but mostly we rely on voice-only calls. Which, from my end, are really hard to follow.

Altia Systems, a Silicon Valley company that launched at Demo Mobile this week in San Francisco, has organizations like mine squarely in its sights with a US $600 video conferencing "puck" and cloud-based conferencing system that it calls PanaCast. The puck has six cameras in it and audio inputs (BYO microphones). The system collects the video and audio, stitches them into a 250-degree panorama, compresses the data, and transmits it over the Internet, working in real time over Wi-Fi, 4g, or even 3G connections.

The coolest aspect, from my perspective, shows itself on the other end, where the lonely telecommuter (me) is trying to watch, or worse, listen to, her colleagues banter in a crowded conference room. Anyone remotely participating in the video conference can independently pan around the room and zoom in and out. Which means I could finally see who's talking, what’s on the whiteboard, and what snack goodies are being passed around. I plan on reviewing this one, and will let you know if it works as well in real life as it did when the Altia founders demonstrated it to me (see video, above).

Follow me on Twitter @TeklaPerry.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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