Video conferencing is groupware technology that allows people in two or more locations to interact simultaneously by bringing together video, voice calling, file sharing, instant messaging, and web co-browsing across Windows and Mac operating systems. Thanks to advances in high-speed web connectivity, video conferencing is now available on a larger scale and at a lower cost. New, cheaper technologies like the webcam, software compression, and affordable broadband connections are making it possible for home users—not just business users—to enjoy video conferencing.
More importantly, video conferencing has become extremely helpful in the field of medicine. It is now applied to telemedicine – it is used to diagnose patients remotely, conduct remote consultations, and transmit medical images and other urgent data in real time.
Peripheral applications such as microscopes with built-in digital cameras, ultrasound tools, “video endoscopes” and many other related technologies can be connected to video conferencing technology to transmit patient data. Patients who stay at home can easily access nurses and doctors, especially during medical emergencies. Video conferencing also allows medical professionals to discuss cases and consult with each other over long distances. Best of all, video conferencing allows patients in remote rural areas to receive modern diagnostics without having to leave their homes.
Video conferencing has also become widespread in schools and other educational institutions. Students, teachers and lecturers from all over the world can teach classes together and even broadcast those classes to isolated locations. Videoconferencing has also lowered the cost of education by giving students access to lessons that their schools cannot offer at a lower cost in their own local area.
For example, foreign language courses can be run by a distant university and delivered to a recipient school. In some cases, video conferencing can replace field trips — economically disadvantaged students who can’t go to zoos, museums, or trips to other countries in person can use the technology to immerse themselves in the same experience.