July 11, 2014
Telepresence pioneer Vidyo has added another $20 million to its wallet to help fuel its vision of a video-enabled Internet of Things (IoT).
The company announced the funding on Friday, bringing its total to $139 million raised since its launch in 2005. Its latest round comes from existing investors, including Menlo Ventures , Rho Ventures , Sevin Rosen Funds , QuestMark Partners , Saints Capital, Four Rivers Group, ORR Ventures, Triangle Peak Partners, and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) via its Junos Innovation Fund. (See Vidyo Raises $17.1M, Vidyo D Round Nets $22.5M, Vidyo Raises $25M, and Vidyo Bags $15M, Spews News.)
Vidyo Inc. started life building scalable telepresence platforms. You may know it as the technology behind Google+ Hangouts or the video chat enabler for Nintendo's Wii. Now, however, it is planning to bring HD-quality video to non-person-to-person interactions through IoT -- i.e. letting people interact with devices, whether they be appliances, wearables, or in-vehicle applications. (See Vidyo Provides Chat Function for Wii.)
Vidyo says it will use its fresh funding to accelerate this vision, specifically for sales and market development of its VidyoWorks platform in banking, healthcare, government, and enterprise. According to the company's VP of Strategic Marketing, Mark Noble, the company is responding to a movement toward integrating video into workflows and devices so that it's not a destination, just part of a process.
"There's a whole world now of different apps that need to be video enabled," Noble says. "Everyone is claiming any network, any device, but this is about any app -- enabling it."
Vidyo has seen the most traction so far in the healthcare industry, embedding video software in telemetry devices and consoles for video consultations. It's also working in the banking industry to embed video into ATMs and in retail to enable concierge services. Or, for a more niche use case, Noble suggests the Department of Agriculture could use an application to track the migratory patterns of animals. Rather than tag them with radio tags, it could equip them with wearable cameras for a real view of how they are living.
What about WebRTC?
If all this sounds familiar, it is because this is essentially the promise of WebRTC, which is a web standard for embedding real-time communications in a browser with one click. Vidyo has been successful because of its scalable, patented video router that allows it to adapt to and optimize for any degree of media handling, but Noble says it will work with WebRTC as well via the VP8 codec: Vidyo would just treat WebRTC as another end point. (See The Upcoming Video Codec War and What WebRTC Means for Telcos.)
Through its relationship with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), which recently confirmed the WebRTC component of Hangouts, Vidyo is working to build scalable extensions of the more advanced VP9 codec in Chrome. As the next generation of VP9-based WebRTC apps begin to come to market, Vidyo will have browser-based end points natively routable through its infrastructure, meaning developers won't need to do any transcoding to work with it.
"WebRTC is very strong on the API integration side and helps people get video communication into Web apps effectively," Noble says. "The things WebRTC does not address are scalability and public networks -- you still need an architecture and knowhow to use the toolset in VP9. That's what Vidyo does with its architecture and creating scale with a PSTN-type of video exchange."
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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