LifeSize Unveils ClearSea Mobile Video Conferencing Tool

ClearSea, part of LifeSize’s UVC platform, is simpler and more cost-effective than offerings from the likes of Cisco and Polycom, officials say.

LifeSize Communications officials want to make it easier for people to use their video conferencing technology at any time and on any device.

LifeSize, a division of Logitech, is rolling out its mobile and desktop video conferencing solution, called LifeSize UVC ClearSea, which can be used on almost every desktop and mobile device, from PCs and Apple Macs to tablets and smartphones. ClearSea is optimized for about 50 Apple iOS and Google Android devices—more than twice the number supported by other video conferencing solutions, according to LifeSize officials—and support for all mobile devices is standard.

The introduction of ClearSea is just the latest step by LifeSize in its efforts to expand the reach of video conferencing, according to Michael Helmbrecht, vice president of video solutions at LifeSize.

"What we've been working toward for a pretty considerable amount of time is addressing the needs of the more mobile users," Helmbrecht told eWEEK in an interview via ClearSea conducted on an Apple iPad.

Video conferencing continues to grow in importance in the larger collaboration market, and mobile capabilities are becoming more of a focus for businesses. In a November 2012 report, IDC analyst Petr Jirovsky said that adoption of video conferencing is "being driven by video integrations with vendors' UC and collaboration portfolios, and with the increasing use of video among small workgroup, desktop and mobile users. Video as a key component of collaboration continues to place high on the list of priorities for many organizations."

The video conferencing space also is being affected by a changing compute landscape, fueled by such trends as greater workforce mobility and bring-your-own-device (BYOD). Workers increasingly are using their tablets and smartphones in the workplace, and tend to be on the road or working remotely. Still, they want to be able to collaborate with colleagues, partners or customers, and are demanding that tools such as video conferencing be enabled on all their devices.

A growing number of vendors—from Cisco Systems and Polycom to Vidyo and Avaya—are working to make their video collaboration technology available to these workers, through apps for their smartphones and tablets and by making their offerings available via browsers.

LifeSize officials said the ClearSea technology, available on the company's UVC video conferencing software platform, is an easier and more cost-effective way to bring high-definition video conferencing capabilities to mobile users. Among the key capabilities is the ability to easily bring a guest into a conference without needing video solutions already in place and to ring a user on multiple devices—such as a tablet, smartphone, notebook and room-based video collaboration system—at the same time.

In addition, all LifeSize UVC ClearSea users can view a single directory on any device, and—thanks to the LifeSize UVC Multipoint product—can easily bring in new participants by clicking on a contact name on the directory.

Users also can transfer existing calls from one device to another, enabling them to keep a call going.

LifeSize UVC ClearSea allows for easy scaling—organizations can buy as few as one port at a time and add ports as needed—and LifeSize offers free unlimited user accounts for everyone in an organization, and allows up to five devices per user, a key consideration in this era of BYOD, Helmbrecht said.

"As people adopt more BYOD technology … we have to figure out how to support whatever [devices] people have," he said. "We're trying to make it really easy and simple."

In a demonstration on an iPad, the ClearSea solution seemed easy to use and let users easily move back and forth between video collaboration and content sharing.

The ClearSea offering can be deployed via LifeSize UVC hardware or as a virtual appliance through LifeSize's UVC virtual machine software for VMware's virtualization platform or Microsoft's Hyper-V technology.

While ClearSea currently supports iOS and Android mobile devices, Helmbrecht said the company is looking to aggressively grow its capabilities, noting that supporting Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system "is the next logical choice," though he declined to speculate on when that would happen.

LifeSize UVC ClearSea is available immediately, starting at $1,199, including mobile clients.