Using Google+ for Web conferencing

Discussions about the desktop video conferencing solution provided by the Church

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markecurtis
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Postby markecurtis » Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:05 pm

It's worth noting that Google uses the same underlying technology for G+ Hangouts as the Church's PVC (Personal Video Conferencing) solution. Voth use technology from a company called Vidyo (http://www.vidyo.com). The Church's system has the added advantage that it is (or soon will be) encrypted, which deals with the privacy concerns somewhat.

I have experience with both Vidyo and G+ hangouts & I believe the quality is better with Vidyo's implementation. Probably Google has reduced the performance a bit since it is a free solution.

Both Vidyo and G+ Hangouts have the very nice feature of switching the display to show the active speaker in the big window which makes for a nice, user friendly meeting.

It's also worth noting that the Church has recently opened PVC to wards & stakes worldwide (except Utah) so using Vidyo's better implementation is entirely an option now.

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Mikerowaved
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Postby Mikerowaved » Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:03 pm

markecurtis wrote:It's worth noting that Google uses the same underlying technology for G+ Hangouts as the Church's PVC (Personal Video Conferencing) solution. Voth use technology from a company called Vidyo (www.vidyo.com).

While this is true for now, there's a possibility that Google may soon switch to a different video engine, most likely the VP8 codec from last year's On2 Technologies acquisition, which Google recently put into the pubic domain with a BSD-like license.

markecurtis wrote:The Church's system has the added advantage that it is (or soon will be) encrypted, which deals with the privacy concerns somewhat.

Google+ Hangouts does offer HTTPS + SRTP. While not true end-to-end encryption, it does provide a certain amount of protection.

markecurtis wrote:I have experience with both Vidyo and G+ hangouts & I believe the quality is better with Vidyo's implementation. Probably Google has reduced the performance a bit since it is a free solution.

I think you're right. Although the Google solution is indeed free to the public, they are paying quite a bit in licensing to Vidyo, which would increase even more if they bumped up the quality factor. I believe if/when they move to VP8, only then will you see the cap on the quality moved to a higher level.

G+ Hangouts is still being developed and there are certainly some rough edges that will need to be smoothed out, but I see it soon as a viable alternative for getting together over long distances for meetings and possibly even for meetinghouse to meetinghouse broadcasts.
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Postby ksolsen » Tue Oct 04, 2011 9:31 am

Thanks for your comments. As has been mentioned, PVC is now open to ecclesiastical leaders worldwide, and we'd love to have you try it out and see how it works for you. We did exclude Utah-based leaders from automatic authorization, but if you have a reason to use PVC, just contact the GSC and they can add you as an exception.

Certainly there is no requirement to use PVC - Google+ obviously offers similar functionality also based on the Vidyo engine (although I think you'll find PVC to be a better overall experience), and Skype offers similar functionality as well. But we did extensive studies before settling on Vidyo as our solution provider, and I still think we made the best overall choice, given our requirements. It's not a completely perfect solution (I don't think such a thing exists), but with the proper setup, it generally performs very well.

I've posted a lot of information on our wiki- feel free to check it out.
Kurt Olsen - Product Manager at Church HQ for Digital Presentation (Personal Video Conferencing, Meetinghouse Webcast, Conference Rooms, Video Conference Endpoints, Meetinghouse Digital Content)

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Postby lajackson » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:03 pm

Kurt,

Would you consider this a technical solution for a meetinghouse to meetinghouse stake conference broadcast, with the added capability that speakers could participate from any of the locations tied into the conference?

Would there be cost factors involved that would lend preference to a more normal one-way broadcast?

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Postby harddrive » Wed Oct 05, 2011 6:14 am

lajackson wrote:Kurt,

Would you consider this a technical solution for a meetinghouse to meetinghouse stake conference broadcast, with the added capability that speakers could participate from any of the locations tied into the conference?

Would there be cost factors involved that would lend preference to a more normal one-way broadcast?


Lajackson, I know that you asked Kurt, but I just want to jump in here about this. My plan is to move forward in testing this as a solution to having speakers in any location within the stake. My stake presidents wants that ability, so I'm going to try (make) it happen.

the cost factor that I would see is that another entire computer system, with a camera will have to be purchased because self-view in PVC won't go full screen during a meeting. Also, if you haven't purchased yet, but another computer at each building to receive the broadcast and making sure that audio will work.

My plan going in, is to use the podium microphone as the input. This would require a cable to be run from the chapel amplifier to a place that I can grab the connection and put it into the computer. Then I plan to use the chapel speaker system as the speakers.

So I got a lot of planning to do and I have installation and wiring to do. So if you want to follow along, I will plan to write it up on this forums or you can contact me directly.

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Postby ksolsen » Wed Oct 05, 2011 2:48 pm

harddrive wrote:Lajackson, I know that you asked Kurt, but I just want to jump in here about this. My plan is to move forward in testing this as a solution to having speakers in any location within the stake. My stake presidents wants that ability, so I'm going to try (make) it happen.

the cost factor that I would see is that another entire computer system, with a camera will have to be purchased because self-view in PVC won't go full screen during a meeting. Also, if you haven't purchased yet, but another computer at each building to receive the broadcast and making sure that audio will work.

My plan going in, is to use the podium microphone as the input. This would require a cable to be run from the chapel amplifier to a place that I can grab the connection and put it into the computer. Then I plan to use the chapel speaker system as the speakers.

So I got a lot of planning to do and I have installation and wiring to do. So if you want to follow along, I will plan to write it up on this forums or you can contact me directly.


harddrive: Thanks - PVC certainly can be used this way, as we previously discussed. I'm a little curious about your comment that self-view in PVC won't go full screen during a meeting. There is actually a way to do it, although I'm unclear why you would do it. If you host a meeting in your PVC meeting room, you have control of the meeting and can determine how other participants are involved in the meeting. Get there by switching back to the browser while the PVC window showing the participants is still up. Click on Control Meeting on the PVC portal. You will see all the participants. You can click on the Privacy (video mute) icon next to all other participants (icon looks like a camera). That will stop their video feeds from being displayed, leaving you with just your self-view. You can also click on the Layout button, restrict it to one screen, and mute audio on all other participants from Control Meeting. That way, only the current talker shows up.
Kurt Olsen - Product Manager at Church HQ for Digital Presentation (Personal Video Conferencing, Meetinghouse Webcast, Conference Rooms, Video Conference Endpoints, Meetinghouse Digital Content)

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Postby ksolsen » Wed Oct 05, 2011 2:55 pm

lajackson wrote:Kurt,

Would you consider this a technical solution for a meetinghouse to meetinghouse stake conference broadcast, with the added capability that speakers could participate from any of the locations tied into the conference?

Would there be cost factors involved that would lend preference to a more normal one-way broadcast?


There are definitely some fairly significant additional complexities in doing building-to-building meetings with large groups in each location, but yes, it can be done. I used PVC to support training sessions in places like Vancouver, Spokane, Dominican Republic, Perth Australia, and other places. Audio is the most challenging aspect. The solution ranges from fairly simple to very complex. Sometime soon I will post some detail on the PVC wiki about this solution - it will take me some time to pull it all together. I'll post here when it's ready.

Cost factors, as harddrive mentions, are really around having properly-equipped PC's in each location. So I guess that depends on whether or not you already have PC's in your stake that could be used, or if you have to purchase new units.
Kurt Olsen - Product Manager at Church HQ for Digital Presentation (Personal Video Conferencing, Meetinghouse Webcast, Conference Rooms, Video Conference Endpoints, Meetinghouse Digital Content)

harddrive
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Postby harddrive » Thu Oct 06, 2011 5:56 am

ksolsen wrote:harddrive: Thanks - PVC certainly can be used this way, as we previously discussed. I'm a little curious about your comment that self-view in PVC won't go full screen during a meeting. There is actually a way to do it, although I'm unclear why you would do it.


Kurt the reason that I would want to do self view with a camera is because I want to be able to use one computer to not only stream the conference to others, but at the same time, show the picture on a projector in the chapel.

This way if people look at the screen, they will see the speaker in their building and not an empty podium on the other. I could blank out the screen for that location, so that the focus would end up on speaker.

I will continue to test and find the best solution to my problem. I will keep you informed.

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Postby jkentner » Sun Oct 16, 2011 12:58 pm

kennethjorgensen wrote:And if you as a ward determine you need to discuss sensitive stuff then just decide to have a normal face2face meeting and only use this "additional tool" for any other meetings where suitable as far from all meetings have sensitive stuff.

But lets be careful not to worry too much as then we will also have to worry when we chat on the phone or worry if our ISP, email provider etc might read our emails for those "meetings minutes". If you meet for church meetings in a building not owned by the church you might also need to worry in case the owner has installed some listening devices.

Personally I don't share the same worries with that as I think there are other issues that might need looking at instead (such as making sure everyone in the web conference is sitting somewhere private and not sharing the meeting with the rest of the family etc)

I do think you have a point about making sure we have covered all bases. We could also encourage leaders to save highly sensitive stuff for face2face meeting and instead use web conference as an alternative to ensure meetings that previously were difficult/impossible to hold are now possible (due to distance or travel costs).

I see stakes with large distances struggle to hold some meetings at the interval they should and with solutions like this it is now possible to hold those missing meetings. On a more local level I think daily Seminary is one of those where a solution like this is perfect as you can't really use the church's webcast communicator for that.


KennethJorgensen-I agree with dannykos. He has a very valid point about privacy with a Google solution, and I think you are over sensational in your response. Google is an advertisement company first, they make money from advertising, which is why they give out advertising technologies (software) for free. If you read their privacy policies, they in fact have the right to sell your data, and they do.

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Postby kennethjorgensen » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:18 am

jkentner wrote:KennethJorgensen-I agree with dannykos. He has a very valid point about privacy with a Google solution.

I agreed he has a point. I think every place should definately consider it carefully in the same way we consider all other aspects of privacy.


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