Longtime audio conferencing heavyweight PGI is ready to launch version 2.0 of its year-old iMeet video conferencing system.

CMSWire sat down with Sean O'Brien, executive vice president of strategy and communications for premiere global services and David Guthrie, executive vice president and CTO for advanced strategies at PGi for a close up look at the slick iMeet system.

Emphasis on Design

PGi obviously cares about how iMeet can serve companies' video conferencing needs, but one look at the system also shows it cares about a polished design. We kind of go for a minimalist look and iMeet certainly has that feel. This is the consumerization of IT writ large. iMeet's design and interface don't look like enterprise level software, and the new iPad and iPhone apps v2.0 have a level of visual appeal and style that many expect in native iOS apps.

For example, iMeet has a feature called the Presentation Cube. Each person in the meeting can customize their cube with biographical info, photos and social media links. If you want to know more about who is speaking, click on their image and the cube displays the extra info with a snazzy little animation that turns the image into a cube. Each side has info, and the added effect of the animation just adds little bit of whimsy.

Each meeting room visitor gets their own cube complete with professional bios.

Dynamic Frame Rates for Low Bandwidth

One thing many customers are concerned with is not using up too much bandwidth during large video conferences, O'Brien said. iMeet can vary the video frame rates for optimal bandwidth, and the Spotlight Cube feature shows this off handily. Spotlight a cube for a guest speaker or keynote address, and the other cubes in the background are paused.

While PGi's GlobalMeet is its main WebEx and Adobe Connect competitor in the enterprise, iMeet is intended for SMB's. There is enterprise-level support with per user per month SaaS licensing, but iMeet also has packages for US$ 40 per user per month. That includes unlimited video conferences for up to 15 people per session.

Of course, not everyone will be in front of their laptop during these sessions. Around 30 percent of iMeet users are tuning on their mobile devices, O'Brien said, and there's even a call in option for those who want to listen in on a phone. 

iPad HD app is available on iTunes, and other tablets can use the browser based iMeet version.

App Store in the Works

Today, it's all about integration, and this is one reason it can be tiring to pick out new software. Every case is different, but iMeet has extensions available now for the popular Evernote app, and also makes it easy to link to social media, LinkedIn and email from a hosted session. The iMeet team plans to roll out API's for development of third party apps and an app store, Guthrie said

Native app for iPhone and iTouch is available with an Android app nearly ready.

iMeet is simple to set up, and each host has their own URL where the meeting room lives. Sharing documents is enabled, and emails can be sent right to the meeting room for everyone to view at the same time. For capabilities like desktop sharing, a download is necessary, but for things like remote control, GlobalMeet would be the option there. Additionally, iMeet has features like instant messaging, customizable backgrounds and easily identifiable speakers. A little glowing green ring appears around the cube of the main speaker so it's harder to get confused about whose voice is being heard.

If someone has forgotten about a scheduled meeting (or is just late), there's an option for messaging them with a heads up the meeting has started. Likewise, for mobile users, there's an option for pre-set return messages for quick, brief responses. iMeet is browser-based, so for non iOS devices, meetings can be held without the app. For those on Android, a native app is nearly ready, Guthrie said. Tell us in the comments if you think the videoconferencing world is due for a shakeup or if you're all set with Google Hangouts or Skype.