VC Daily’s Future of Video Conferencing interview series asks industry leaders to talk about how video conferencing is impacting their industries and how new communication technology might make a difference in the way they work and the products and services they provide.
Samir Desai is the senior vice president of business development at Cosemi, producers of hybrid fiber optic cable technology. Desai puts years of experience in optics to work to support Cosemi’s goal of producing cables that provide fast, powerful and flexible connections.
VC Daily: Let’s dive into active optical cables (AOCs). The advantages of AOCs over active/passive copper are obvious. They include greater bandwidth and capacity, lightweight deployment, and electromagnetic immunity–so when will we see it emerge as a dominant force in in-room systems, such as video conferencing setups?
Desai: We think the proliferation of 4K video and associated hardware like 4K conference cameras (the Logitech BRIO is the perfect example) in enterprise conference rooms will demand improved connectivity solutions like AOCs for USB and HDMI Displays. A typical enterprise conference or huddle room on today’s smart office campus requires connectivity cabling to be tucked away under the floor, over ceilings, or behind walls, and, in order to connect to displays and cameras, at least 16 feet of cabling is usually required. This requirement, coupled with the need for a small bend radius, a low weight, and small footprint make it nearly impossible to choose copper cabling, which is the usual solution. AOCs, on the other hand, serve these requirements not only be providing high bandwidth for 4K video, but also through their ease of installation, by essentially looking and feeling like a longer, thinner, direct attached copper cable (DAC).
VC Daily: What real-world difference would the average video caller see from a switch to AOC? Would it improve frame rate, resolution, call stability?
Desai: It’s more about the way AOCs allow for better range and architecture in a conference room than passive copper. So, it’s about the functionality, infrastructure, and ergonomics that AOCs enable. The characteristics you’re talking about–frame rate, resolution, and call stability–are mostly determined by software and the LAN bandwidth.
If you’ve ever had to lay out a conference room according to limitations in the distance, weight, and size of your audio/video cabling connectivity, you’ll appreciate what AOC can do.
VC Daily: Will AOC become relevant for small businesses and private users?
Desai: Sure–markets and private users are better served by AOCs. Think of them as new and improved DACs that are thinner, can support longer links, and don’t cost too much more that DACs. As an example, high-end residential users are already using AOCs for home theater connectivity. Some businesses that don’t have in-house IT resources can now simply use AOCs just like plug ‘n’ plug copper cables and integrate the benefits of re-scaling or resizing their conference rooms or audio/video experience to the latest standards.
VC Daily: How might AOC influence the way I set up my video conference room, including the layout of cameras and guests?
Desai: If you’ve ever had to lay out a conference room according to limitations in the distance, weight, and size of your audio/video cabling connectivity, you’ll appreciate what AOC can do. It opens up those limitations to the coolest, most modern, and largest conferencing aspirations.
VC Daily: Wireless connections are clearly currently inferior to AOC, but they do offer the advantage of less “mess” in the video conference room. How can a cabling arrangement match that physical efficiency? Will wireless ever reach the same capacity as AOC?
Desai: Uncompressed 4K video needs 18G, and it’s a stretch to think wireless technologies can scale to such bandwidth, not to mention that 8K video will need 48G bandwidth. AOCs also improve the “mess” in cabling efficiency with a better bend radius and thinner cables vs. DACs.
VC Daily: Cosemi’s product is well placed to accommodate the emerging 4K and even 8K video conferencing resolutions, but how can a cable improve the functionality of these high-end services without directly impacting the incoming broadband signal?
Desai: Just like incoming pipes into a datacenter support 100G or 400G and inside the datacenter the server/switch network needs multiple terabits of bandwidth, the incoming broadband signal transmits or receives processed/compressed data. But in the conference room, on TVs or monitors, we’re viewing uncompressed video at 4K–this demands that the cable is able to support 4K bandwidth, and it’s not related at all to the bandwidth of broadband in the conference room or building.
VC Daily: Who is currently using 4K video calling? When, if ever, will it become standard within offices? What about 8k?
Desai: Just like most markets, a technology and its proliferation happen over many years with consumer education, the availability of endpoints like Logitech’s 4K cameras, and more and more 4K-capable TVs and displays. Changes in the infrastructure inside the conference room and improvements in broadband bandwidth are making this move seamless. We do believe 4K will be the standard for video conferencing just like 4K content is becoming more and more available in broadcast media.
VC Daily: Cosemi supports a range of connection types, including Type A, B, C, and mini USBs. Which type of connection do you feel will become dominant in the market, and why?
Desai: We think the future of USB is with Type-C because of the reversibility of the connector plug, the additional bandwidth it can support–up to 20 Gb/sec per lane–and its compact size.
[4K gaming and streaming] is an application where AOCs shine by allowing gaming and streaming consoles to be placed further away from displays.
VC Daily: Cosemi has made special mention of how its products can aid augmented and virtual reality vision. What difference does high-capacity cabling make to the deployment of these technologies?
Desai: AR/VR needs lots of bandwidth for an immersive experience and the connectivity has to be lightweight–AOCs meet these requirements well. Moreover, AOCs and especially hybrid AOCs allow multiple connectivity cables to be compiled into a single cable.
VC Daily: Will we see AOC used for entertainment purposes, like 4K gaming or streaming?
Desai: For sure–this is an application where AOCs shine by allowing gaming and streaming consoles to be placed further away from displays. It’s already happening and will continue to grow along with 4K content availability.