In general to consider any system intelligent there are a few basic preconditions that need to be met. First and most importantly the intelligent entity should be able to adapt to new situations based on a certain predefined criteria. Additionally the system needs to be able to learn new responses and optimize its behaviour over time. To do this the rule base needs to be adapted according to the feedback. It is evident that building a video conferencing system that could be considered truly intelligent is a daunting task.
The situation today is that video conferencing hardware has been built for one purpose only. A frequent phenomenon is that a company winds up retrofitting existing meeting rooms with new devices. The most common corporate communication needs, internal company meetings and virtual team collaboration will be for the most part be well fulfilled. Everybody is happy partly because face-to-face meetings add value, partly because they don’t know of anything better.
The fact is that a normal office environment has not been designed to be an optimal communications environment. Open office concepts have born out of compromise and do not take into account the growing number of distributed teams. The problem is that often the meeting room setup constrains the use of video conferencing to a very limited template. Doing anything outside of the basic scope would be very impractical.
The current solutions are not very versatile and customizing require a full groundup redesign. The constraints presented above are nothing new of course. Telepresence technology has born out the frustrations of customers had with earlier video conferencing generations. The fundamental design guideline has been to strip the environment to its bare essence. This approach has worked well and undoubtedly improved effectiveness of communication. Unfortunately it is not impossible to make cuts without losing something essential in the process. We are still far away from situation where we don’t need to set the stage for communication.
The challenge is to build video communications systems that can not just handle a static environment, but also be able to react correctly in easy to predict situations. All such adaptive actions should be easy to understand and non-intrusive to the communication. The most basic active building block is feed switching. As complexity grows (number of sites, views feeds, events etc.) software-based tools for intelligent information flow management become essential. In the beginning it may still be necessary to let the user implicitly give clues or select their explicit communication needs. Later on content-aware solutions with dynamic event response should become the norm.