one must try to become like a flower: open, frank, equal, generous and kind
-- The Mother
Oh! i See : The iSee Story
Long long ago, so long ago nobody can say how long ago...
Well, it all started over a conversation that happened over 6 years ago
- when there was still debate on whether ATM or TCP/IP will succeed as
the de-facto networking platform - the conclusion was that if efficient
transport of real-time audio/video can be achieved without a guaranteed
quality of service, then the simplicity of TCP/IP would succeed.
At that time, other than expensive ISDN-based hardware, there was one
commercially available software product that was kind of usable that
came out of an academic environment. Since we felt that more could be
done, we took that as a challenge, convinced the TeNet
group in Indian Institute of Technology
( IIT ) Madras, and started this journey to build videoconferencing
solutions over TCP/IP networks, specifically the Internet.
It took us a couple of years to get the first cut working - we were all
quite excited to see it working with people across the globe...small
grainy picture, choppy audio - to us it was nirvana ;-)
Then we started exploring the commercial possibilities - we didn't have
the marketing muscle to tackle retail ; so we explored the option of
convincing PC manufacturers to bundle this along with their PCs...they
were quite impressed but did not want to take a chance in confronting
the monopoly long distance company - since Voice-over-IP was banned at
Around the same time, we also realised that the three factors: a
powerful enough PC, (>= a Pentium 100 based system), a good camera
(capable of capturing over 5-10 frames per second), and sufficient
bandwidth (60+ Kbps for decent video/audio) were not really affordable
to the common man.
So our commercial interests took a back-seat, our development efforts
slowed down, and we started to focus on other less exciting things to
feed ourselves ;-!
It was around then that we started to seriously look at making it work
on the CorDECT WiLL (wireless in local loop) system - we knew it was
being deployed in villages to empower them with telephone and internet
connection...and the vision of "Indian villages using
videoconferencing" was quite enticing.
By this time we had already dabbled with H323 compatibility, developed
our own audio and video codecs, networking algorithms, and Graphical
User Interface ( GUI ) stuff; but we realised that if this was going to
work - it needed to work reliably in "low bandwidth" (sub 20
Kbps) conditions. Also, the saying "if you can't see somebody, you
wait; if you can't hear anybody you leave" made us focus on
ensuring that delivering audio was given a higher priority.
fast forward to today...and we have iSee
...that's about all the time the author is willing to spend for now - so
in the interest of getting the web-site up and running, he's gonna pause
and continue this some other day ;-)