Video conferencing instead of business travel
The Multimedia Services videoconferencing services provide the technical infrastructure for global communication and cooperation in research and teaching.
There’s a high spirited atmosphere in the ETH main building’s lower level where about 20 people welcome and celebrate a young researcher who has just left room HG D22. Reason for this celebration: the latter has just passed her oral doctoral examination. The remarkable thing about this: one of the examiners was unable to travel to Zurich at the appointed date and attended via video conference. The video conference studio at ETH Zurich provides ideal conditions to meet challenging situations even if it’s long distance.
Face to Face – video conferencing for teaching and research
For Christopher Sauder this is what makes his daily business special. Together with his colleagues in the group „Video Conferencing and Collaboration“ of the Multimedia Services, Christopher Sauder plans and accompanies dozens of video conferences in a month. These can take place in the main building, at a researcher’s workplace, in the morning, at Hönggerberg, by iPad – and sometimes even in the middle of the night. Even though basically it is no problem to organize a video conference with three, four or even more worldwide participants, the time difference poses a hurdle which will probably require at least one party to get up very early or stay awake late at night.
MMS VC staff members Pedro Ottiger, Christopher Sauder and Philippe Koch: iPad versus old video phone.
Infrastructure and Use
The doctoral examination is but one form of using video conferencing technology. The main focus is definitely on meetings of various kinds. In academics, video conferencing allows live transmission with interactive communication of guest lectures or even complete lecture series which take place at 2 or more different locations whether they be Zurich and Basel or Zurich, Boston and Singapore.
Dedicated video conferencing rooms at ETH Center and Hönggerberg (HG D14, D16.2 HG, HG D22, HCI J2 and J3) are available for such meetings and lectures. This includes support provided by MMS VC so that participants can concentrate fully on their speech or presentation. Focus here is on quality and reliability.
In addition, video conferencing systems have been installed in standard conference rooms such as HG F30 or HIT E51. For the integration of external sites, these systems have proven more reliable and more readily available than the rental equipment formerly used.
MMS VC also supports customers who prefer to conduct their video conference in their own conference rooms. Last but not least, Scopia Desktop software allows „real“ video conferencing at your own computer.
Providing quality desktop videoconferencing is particularly challenging. On the one hand, the standards set by Skype are quite high and on the other hand technical requirements in heterogeneous and partially unknown environments can be very demanding. VC MMS offers Scopia Desktop as a convenient cross-platform solution. Unlike Skype, Scopia Desktop offers screen content transmission for free. This can be an important factor, think operational meetings or online presentations.
MMS Video Conference Service thus provides the optimum solution for all academic scenarios. To cover any remaining gaps, synchronization with Lync is planned.
Christopher Sauder, ITS MMS, VC Videoconferencing & Collaboration