A videoconference or video conference (also known as a videoteleconference) is a set of interactive telecommunication technologies which allow two or more locations to interact via two-way video and audio transmissions simultaneously. It has also been called 'visual collaboration' and is a type of groupware. It differs from a videophone call in that it is designed to serve a conference rather than individuals.
Videophone calls can be referred to as 'videocalls'. They differ from videoconferencing in that they expect to serve individuals, not groups. However that distinction is becoming increasingly blurred with technology improvements such as increased bandwidth and sophisticated software clients that can allow for multiple parties on a call. In general everyday usage the term videoconferencing is now frequently used instead of video phonecall for point-to-point calls between two units. Both videophone calls and videoconferencing can also be referred to as a video link.
Webcams are popular, relatively low cost devices which can provide live video and audio streams via personal computers, and can be used with many software clients for video calls. A separate webpage article is devoted to that product.
A videoconference system is generally higher cost than a videophone and deploys greater capabilities. A videoconference (also known as a videoteleconference) allows two or more locations to interact via live two-way video and audio transmissions simultaneously. This is generally accomplished by the use of a multipoint control unit (a centralized distribution and call management system) or by a similar non-centralized multipoint capability embedded in each videoconferencing unit. Again, technology improvements have circumvented traditional definitions by allowing multiple party videoconferencing via web-based applications. A separate webpage article is devoted to videoconferencing.
A telepresence system is a high-end videoconferencing system and service usually employed by enterprise-level corporate offices. Telepresence conference rooms use state-of-the art room designs, video cameras, displays, sound-systems and processors, coupled with high-to-very-high capacity bandwidth transmissions, resulting in costs up to US$500,000 per room in 2009.
Typical uses of the various technologies described above include videocalling or videoconferencing on a one-to-one, one-to-many or many-to-many basis for personal, business, educational, deaf Tele-Relay and tele-medical, diagnostic and rehabilitative use or services. New services utilizing videocalling and videoconferencing, such as personal videocalls to inmates incarcerated in penitentiaries, and videoconferencing to resolve airline engineering issues at maintenance facilities, are being created or evolving on an on-going basis.