Monday, April 16, 2012

Keep In Touch With ooVoo

Recently I have been searching for a computer application that will allow several people I work with who are located in different offices and cities to collaborate without traveling to one location. Many large companies have internal video conferencing systems but most require the participants to be in a special room. There are several expensive computer-based software applications that are available as well. My search uncovered an inexpensive solution that might have some non-business applications especially for families who are spread across wide geographic distances.

The software is called “ooVoo” (don’t ask me how to pronounce it) and it allows up to 12 people to see and hear each other using a computer equipped with a camera, microphone and Internet connection. Think of it as Skype on steroids.

What makes ooVoo different than most other videoconferencing services on the Internet is that only the person setting up the call needs to have the ooVoo software installed on a computer. The other 11 participants need only enter an internet address into their browser (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari). Each machine must also have Java installed but that is most likely already on most machines and, if it isn’t, it is a free download.

One of the features that makes ooVoo a great way to converse with your family members is that you can share pictures and other materials stored on your computer with the entire group. So if I set up the call I can pull up pictures from my computer and show them full screen on all the other computers connected to the call. While the pictures are on everyone’s screens, the audio continues so I can describe what everyone is seeing and all the participants can freely share in the conversation.

I have checked out ooVoo and it really is painless to use. While the company claims it works seamlessly on both PCs and Macs, I had a much harder time getting the Mac version to run without actually installing special software on all the machines connected to the call. This is a real negative since with the PC version there is no preparation needed on the part of anyone on the call except the one originating it.

ooVoo comes in several flavors. The free version allows up to 12 simultaneous participants but does have advertising banners on the screen. The entire call can be recorded and saved or posted to YouTube. If you purchase the upgraded version, the advertisements disappear and you can add an unlimited number of participants via phone only. They can hear everything but of course can’t see the video.

ooVoo is worth a look if you have a big family and want to have a group call rather than a traditional Skype call.

Click to video call me

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