• United States

Video mail adds a visual touch to e-mails

Apr 17, 20062 mins

* Video mail greetings using stored video content

Recently, Larry got his first video e-mail but it wasn’t delivered as a video attachment. An old colleague got in touch with Larry using streamed audio and video. What made the video mail unique is that it is offered as a hosted service. The company offering the service is called “VM Direct” and the product suite is called “helloworld.”

While video attachments have been around for a while, the e-mail was “filmed” from the colleague’s desktop camera and sent to the hosting company. When Larry clicked on the colleague’s picture, the video played – allowing Larry to see and hear the colleague’s greeting. Like traditional e-mails with attachments, the video can be forwarded. It looks to us like the television networks and movie studios aren’t the only ones that can offer live streaming video and stored video content – now the capability is being delivered to consumers and enterprises.

The service is integrated with a traditional textual e-mail and instant messaging service, along with other features like storage, Windows Media delivery, spam/virus protection, and customized homepages.

Business versions of the service are also available, adding enterprise-centric features like the capability to offer live broadcast to simultaneous viewers, video-on-demand, archived presentation playback, and real-time online polls with Q&A for conferences.

Recipients don’t need to have a broadband connection since the service adjusts the streaming to the receiver’s connection speeds, although according to Chuck Eckenberg, director at VM Direct: “Broadband access will naturally offer a better result.” To send videos, users will need a Web cam attached to their computer.

When asked about ease of use, Eckenberg replied: “My 83-year-old mother is now using the service to send videos to the grandkids. While she wouldn’t use traditional e-mail, she can now send video with three clicks on her computer.” Eckenberg also noted that VM Direct next month plans to release video streaming delivery services to multimedia-capable mobile devices.

Prices for the consumer-oriented services begin at $9.95 per month for basic package, and range up to $39.95 to include the live video broadcasts. Business packages start at $199 per month.

For additional question about how the service works, you can send an e-mail to Eckenberg.