Logitech to stream video to iPads, iPhones

An update to its LifeSize Video Server will make one-way streams go to all iOS devices

In a move that underscores the importance of both mobile devices and video in staying connected within enterprises, Logitech is extending its LifeSize video streaming system to iPads, iPhones and iPods.

Video is coming into more enterprises as a communication tool even while more employees are relying on mobile devices. Cisco, Polycom and other vendors have committed themselves to reaching those mobile users with video, a task that requires the content to be adapted to different screen sizes and processing capabilities.

Logitech is starting to tackle this problem with the latest version of software for its LifeSize Video Center appliance, a platform for distributing live and recorded streams such as training sessions, executive messages and company meetings. Logitech began with Apple iOS because of the large installed base of such devices, but the company is looking at future offerings for Android, BlackBerry and other platforms, said Mary Miller, director of product marketing.

Video Center is designed strictly for one-way, one-to-many distribution of video. Logitech is not extending its two-way videoconferencing system to mobile devices yet, though it continues to look at the need for that capability. LifeSize users on the road have to use laptops for videoconferencing.

Logitech is bringing video streaming to iOS devices through the Web browser rather than an application. Logitech has verified the software with native iOS browsers, said Travis McCollum, a Logitech product manager.

Companies can record videos or initiate live streams on LifeSize endpoints such as the LifeSize 220 Series at their facilities, with resolutions up to 720p. The content is transcoded within the endpoint for different devices on which it may be viewed, including laptops, desktops, large displays and iOS devices.

The LifeSize Video Center Version 1.2 software includes a mechanism for automatically changing the bit rate of a stream for certain types of clients when they are detected on the network. Using the right bit rate for the network and device can eliminate the need for buffering, Miller said. Administrators can set up as many as four different bit rates and assign those to particular types of devices based on policies.

This "automatic adaptive streaming," as well as being able to stream to iOS devices, sets LifeSize Video Center apart from other systems in its class, including ones from Polycom and Cisco, Miller said.

Polycom said its Polycom Video Media Center supports multiple video formats, including for mobile devices, for on-demand streaming. The company plans to offer adaptive bit rates for live streaming later this year. Cisco offers automatic transcoding and optimization of streams for a wide range of mobile devices, including the Apple iOS lines, on its higher-end Media Experience Engine appliance.

Logitech, better known for peripherals than for major enterprise systems, agreed to acquire LifeSize Communications for US$405 million in 2009.

The updated software is set to become available next month. LifeSize Video Center is available globally for a list price of US$29,999.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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