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HD videoconferencing system runs Linux

Sep 28, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Later this week, Panasonic Communications plans to ship a full HD videoconferencing system that incorporates embedded Linux and Nokia's Qt cross-platform development/UI framework. The KX-VC500 offers SIP-compatible videoconferencing supporting H.264-compressed 1920 x 1080i H.264 video over links from 2 to 8Mbps, and offers Internet connectivity, says Panasonic.

The KX-VC500 is aimed at a broad swath of customers in business, education, and manufacturing, says Panasonic. The device is sold as a bare-bones box without camera, microphone, or display, but can be bought with a "3-meter radius" microphone, and presumably with a variety of extra-cost Panasonic camcorders, webcams, and HD displays. The KX-VC500 runs embedded Linux on an undisclosed processor, according to Nokia's Qt Software, which announced the device as a design win for its Qt cross-platform development framework.

Panasonic KX-VC500 with remote and optional camera

Equipped with an Ethernet port, as well as a serial port for controlling an external camcorder, the KX-VC500 provides two HDMI inputs and one HDMI out, says Panasonic. The device is also said to be equipped with RGB-in for receiving video input from a networked PC, and it offers additional RCA I/O for audio.

Following the SIP standard for digital voice and video communications, the KX-VC500 uses H.264 for video compression and MPEG4 AAC LD for compressing audio, says the company. Camera input via the HDMI port can achieve quality as high as 1920 x 1080i, with the same quality passed on across videoconferencing communications when using broadband links of 2Mbps to 8Mbps, says the company.

Touted AV QoS (Quality of Service) support includes a bandwidth estimation algorithm, forward error correction according to auto rate control based on available bandwidth, and automatic repeat request technology that's said to reduce decoder error concealment techniques such as delays. The device also provides packet-loss algorithms, says the company.

Panasonic touts the KX-VC500's ability to offer Internet connectivity, but does not provide further details on the available browser or supported features. The device is said to support multipoint mesh connectivity for up to three endpoints, with more multipoint features promised for an upgrade in 2010.

Specifications listed for the KX-VC500 include:

  • Videoconferencing formats supported (via H.264):
    • 1920 x 1080i (2-8Mbps)
    • 1280 x 720p (1-4Mbps)
    • 704 x 480p (412Kbps to 2Mbps)
  • Camera input resolution — 1920 x 1080p
  • Audio:
    • MPEG-4 AAC LD compression (20Khz stereo)
    • 64Kbps to 96Kbps bit rate
    • Echo cancellation with source separation
    • Microphone with 3-meter radius sold separately
  • Networking — 1 x RF45 jack
  • Other I/O:
    • 2 x HDMI for video in
    • 1 x HDMI for video out
    • 1 x RGB (PC) for video in
    • 1 x mic input
    • 1 x RCA for audio in
    • 1 x RCA out for audio out
    • 1 x serial RS-232C for camera control
  • Communications software:
    • SIP
    • AV QoS (Quality of Service) features
    • AES encryption
    • Multipoint mesh connectivity for up to 3 x endpoints
    • Internet connectivity
  • Operating system — embedded Linux with Qt-based UI stack

According to Nokia's Qt Software division, Panasonic used its Linux-ready Qt framework to develop the UI stack for the KX-VC500. Panasonic has used Qt to develop user interfaces on devices including printers, copiers, scanners, fax machines, and VoIP phones, says Qt Software.

Using Qt, which is being incorporated in the next version of Nokia's Linux-based Maemo mobile device stack, customers can develop applications and user interfaces once, and deploy them across many desktop and embedded operating systems without rewriting the source code, says the Nokia-owned division, formerly called Trolltech.

Stated Junichi Iida, Manager at Panasonic Communications, "Qt's powerful framework translates to real cost and time savings for Panasonic Communications in the development of this ground-breaking new HD device. Having access to great documentation and the source code as well as support from Qt experts in Japan, allowed us to learn and start developing very quickly."


The KX-VC500 videoconferencing system will be available on Oct. 1, says Panasonic Communications, which has not yet disclosed the price. The company plans to manufacture 300 units per month. More information may appear on Panasonic's web-site, here, once the product ships.

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