The Technology Behind Video Chatrooms
Right now there is a very specific technology being used in video chatrooms, and that core technology is digital compression of audio and video streams in real time. This compression is performed by the ‘codec’, and it creates a digital stream of binary information divided into packets. These are transmitted through the network, and eventually delivered to the user on the other side. Though this is a complicated process, it happens in the blink of an eye from the perspective of the end user, which causes many to barely think about this technology.
There are a few physical components required if one is to participate in any chatroom, and they are most typically the following:
Video Input: This comes in the form of a webcam or a standard video camera if you wish to connect one to your machine. Basic webcams can be purchased at your local retail store for about $20, though the higher end webcams can cost somewhere around $200. Remember that the higher quality your webcam, the better the picture will be. Low end webcams still tend to transmit images that display at a low frame rate which ends in a rather choppy video transmission.
Video Output: For the purpose of internet video chat, video output will normally be done with a computer monitor. Different output methods are being developed of course, and it won’t be too long before 3D glasses become the norm, but for right now, the majority of us will use LCD monitors.
Audio Input: Assuming the video chat room you are participating in actually uses audio, you will need to make sure you have a microphone on hand. There are some microphones that come attached to headsets, which tends to kill two birds with one stone.
Audio Output: You can use virtually anything for audio output from large scale stereo speakers to basic computer speakers. Remember that just like the webcam, a higher quality of audio output device will result in a more positive experience. Yes, it will mean spending more money, but isn’t it worth it in the end?
Transfer: The transfer of data is vital if you are to actually participate in a video chat, and in the old days dial up modems might have been used for this. Today LAN or high speed internet is required to participate in a video chat, and due to the higher speeds available, more people are able to participate in video chats.
Finally, you will need a computer that is capable of participating in a chat rooms. Most modern computers will be able to pull it off, and many of them come equipped with everything you need. In many cases you will find that a speaker and webcam is embedded in the monitor which will certainly make things easier on you. That being said, now would be a great time to find a decent video chatroom and see just what you can do.