What is Video Conferencing?

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov

Video conferencing is a communications technology that integrates video and audio to connect users anywhere in the world as if they were in the same room. This term usually refers to communication between three or more users who are in at least two locations, rather than one-on-one communication, and it often includes multiple people at each location. Each user or group of users who are participating in a video conference typically must have a computer, a camera, a microphone, a video screen and a sound system. Another requirement is a connection to the communications system that is being used, which in the 21st century usually is the Internet but might also be a satellite-based system, a broadcast signal or other communications technology. When using video conferencing, participants can see and hear each other in real time or close to it, allowing natural face-to-face conversations and visual elements that are not possible with voice-only communications technology.

Video conferencing may help reduce a business's travel expenses.
Video conferencing may help reduce a business's travel expenses.


This technology is especially popular in the field of business because it allows meetings or conferences to be held without the need for all of the participants to travel to a single location, so it saves time and money. For the same reasons, it also is useful in the fields of academics and medicine. Almost any organization that holds meetings for people from different locations — no matter how far apart they are, whether across town or around the world — can make use of video conferencing.

Video conferencing is now possible on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.
Video conferencing is now possible on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.


Communications companies have been dabbling in this technology essentially since the invention of television. It was mostly impractical or limited in its use, however, before the advent of broadband Internet. Early devices often suffered from poor picture quality. Videophones, which became available in the 1970s, never became popular because they were quite expensive. With the arrival of broadband Internet in the 1990s, however, users could engage in video conferencing through their home computers simply by buying webcams and the appropriate programs.

Video conferencing may eliminate the need for traveling to conduct business meetings.
Video conferencing may eliminate the need for traveling to conduct business meetings.

Expectations for the Future

It is expected that as video and audio communication technologies continue to improve, the experience of video conferencing will become increasingly natural and intuitive to a wider range of users. Some people believe that video conferencing and similar technologies eventually will allow the creation of virtual cities — online spaces where people work together without the constraint of geographic proximity. It is hoped that this might decrease urban congestion and help the environment by making it possible for workers who live in the suburbs to avoid commuting to work.

A web camera may be needed to participate in a video conference.
A web camera may be needed to participate in a video conference.
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov

Michael is a longtime EasyTechJunkie contributor who specializes in topics relating to paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism. In addition to being an avid blogger, Michael is particularly passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. He has also worked for the Methuselah Foundation, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and the Lifeboat Foundation.

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Discussion Comments


What is the best webcam to use for professional video conferencing? I have some job interviews that are going to be conducted online and my laptop camera is terrible. I want to replace it with one that will make me look good when I need to make a big impression.

My company uses video conferencing pretty often and I feel pretty ambivalent about the technology. The benefits are obvious, and you cannot overstate them.

But even in the era of high speed internet, HD webcams and Skype, the technology is still not perfect. We still routinely have sound, picture and connectivity problems. They are usually not severe, but just a hitch that makes you wish once again that you could all just meet in the same room.

How much does it cost for a small home business to use video conferencing? I have a network marketing business with people in my organization in many different states. I would like to set up something like this for conference calls where we could see each other instead of just doing a telephone conference call. I have no idea how to do this or how much it would cost but think it would be an asset to my business.
I think that business video conferencing is something that is going to continue to grow as companies become more global. There are many companies that have an international presence and using something like this is far more effective and inexpensive than actually being there.

I have sat in on a few video conferences and find it is easier to focus and concentrate on what is being said when you can actually see someone instead of just listening to their voice.

@anon165676 -- I have been on the receiving end of companies that have used different video conferencing services. I have never had to do the research to find the service that provides the best service while also being a good economic fit. I do know that some are much more user friendly than others, so I can see how it would pay for companies to do their research before investing in a particular service.

Video conferencing has been great for us. We use it in the entertainment business for casting calls. Beware of GoTo Meeting. It sounds great, but we were not happy. Do research!


It was quite educational and informative for me.


it has really helped me. so far, so good.


informative. Thanks. Also it's useful for companies to know that they can video conference without buying equipment by using public facilities.


thanks. it's very helpful for all students.


i really enjoyed it and it helped me a lot. thanks.


it's really good for all students.

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