Predicting the future can be a dangerous exercise, but in my role here at Logitech I have to make bets on the future to focus today’s innovation on creating what customers will care about in 2-3 years. So here is my best guess at the big video-related trends for 2011, many of them driven by broadband, availability of mobile platforms and connected screens:
#1 – Mobile video calling on your handset finally becomes a reality
Mobile video will receive a big boost from new tablets (iPad 2, Samsung, Blackberry, etc.), mobile VoIP clients (Skype, FaceTime, Tango) and the proliferation of front-facing cameras. Broader awareness of video calling will boost PC and TV adoption, but—given limited image quality—how much mobile consumer adoption will truly happen in 2011 remains to be seen.
#2 – TV video calling is a game changer
As more TVs become connected, TV will start scaling as a video calling platform. It’s a different experience to video chat without squeezing kids in front of a PC or phone (check out early feedback from our TV Cam). As developers leverage camera support, we’ll move toward cameras that enable both chat and gesture-based interactions and video calling integrated in online poker games and TV/sports watching (through picture-in-picture).
#3- HD and full HD will become the norm
We were the first to introduce HD and full HD webcams for video calling, using Logitech Vid, MSN and Skype. In 2011, HD will become expected in video calling, just as it did in 2010 for video capture and streaming. New technologies will contribute to making HD more prolific in 2011, including codecs enabling lower bandwidth and CPU requirements and chips with onboard h264 encoding such as Intel’s SandyBridge.
#4- Camcorders, webcams and smartphones are converging
As more smartphones come equipped with front and back high-megapixel cameras, they’ll become consumers’ single must-carry device and replace digital cameras and camcorders. New smartphone-centric cameras like Looxie will launch to accelerate this shift to mobile.
#5- The year of live streaming
Live streaming grew 600% in 2010 with companies such Ustream, Livestream or Qik and will reach broader mass adoption this year with the proliferation of professional and prosumer content from YouTube and the increased use of smartphone cameras and mobile live streaming apps.
#6- Unified Communications finally starts happening
Microsoft Lync is driving UC adoption in the enterprise, increasingly with the adoption of video conferencing between the desk and the meeting room. Cloud-based UC will appear in 2011 and make significant inroads in SMBs, virtualizing the video conferencing infrastructure and offering it as a service. The cloud enablement will impact all connected screens from the tablet to the meeting room.
#7- Social networks become personal video hubs
In 2011, Facebook will become a potent video platform for sharing and communicating, as the early success of tinychat has shown, eliminating the need for video chat users to turn to other sites and leverage a different social graph (e.g. Skype ID).
#8- DIY video security comes out of age
Mobile live streaming is creating a disruption in the slow-moving security industry and compelling more consumers to keep an eye on what matters most to them anytime, anywhere. Check out Logitech Alert, accessible from your iPhone, BlackBerry or Android phone.
#9- 3-D starts becoming a factor
3-D will start emerging in video-capture scenarios, but it will take a year or two to proliferate further as the technology is still maturing and competing technologies are sorting themselves out (with or without glasses, active/passive shutters, etc.).
#10- Interop becomes real?
If we as an industry want video calling to be as seamless as a phone call, interoperability between providers will have to happen. My wish for 2011: Apple FaceTime opens up its network to interop, creating a snowball effect for others to follow suit.
There you have it. What is your video prediction for 2011?