• Enterprise Video Conferencing with your iPad / Android Tablet

    It's no secret that iPad and Android tablets are having a huge impact on education. The mobility, versatility and (in some cases) very reasonable cost of these devices make them invaluable to any school division.

    Video communication technologies such as Skype, Facetime etc... most certainly prove to be useful in the k-12 arena, but did you know you can fully integrate your iPad / Android tablet into your school division's existing video conferencing infrastructure? That's right, you can indeed! Polycom makes a great app for both iPad and Android called "Polycom Realpresence Mobile" that will give your tablet full H.323 and sip connectivity. Best of all, the app is FREE!

    For years now, many school divisions have embraced enterprise grade video conferencing technologies from manufacturers such as Polycom, Tandberg, Sony etc... and the benefits of being able to seamlessly integrate your tablet devices into your existing video conferencing infrastructure are obvious.

    For the purposes of this tutorial, I'll be using our school division's infrastructure as an example. Here's a brief description of our school division's configuration:

    • Centralized gatekeeper (Polycom V2IU) bridging our school division WAN to the provincial video conferencing network.
    • Sony G50 / G70 endpoints in every school
    • H.323 protocol with either H.264 or H.263 codec
    • Polycom RMX 2000 MCU / Bridge for conferencing multiple endpoints
    • Polycom Realpresence on my iPad
    • E.164 dialing

    The first thing you obviously need to do is to install the Polycom Realpresence Mobile app.

    The app may take some time to load depending on your Internet connection speed.

    Once the app has finished installing, you may launch it. When the app first starts you'll be presented with a screen to authenticate your to Polycom CMA. We don't run Polycom CMA so at first I was a bit worried, but I found that you can simply put gibberish into this first logon screen to get to the main desktop. The remainder of this tutorial assumes you do not use Polycom CMA and will simply be connecting to your gatekeeper manually. Click the sign in button once you've entered whatever gibberish you want in the fields below.

    You will notice that there is a yellow exclamation point at the bottom of your screen. That's OK because the app currently can't connect to anything (CMA, gatekeeper or otherwise). Our next step is to go into the configuration by clicking the blue gear in the bottom right corner of the screen.

    You will be presented with the main configuration page below.

    Turn off both "Auto Find CMA Server" and "Polycom CMA Service".

    Next we need to configure our H.323 settings.

    Make sure "Enable H.323 Calls" and "Gatekeeper Registration" are both turned on (assuming you are using a gatekeeper).

    For our infrastructure, the three additional settings I needed to configure were "Internal Gatekeeper", "H.323 Name" and "H.323 Extension". Internal Gatekeeper is obviously the address of your gatekeeper. H.323 Name is just a friendly name to identify the device in the gatekeeper. I called mine "Ernests-iPad" as an example. Finally, H.323 Extension is the actual unique, numeric E.164 number we've assigned to the endpoint. Once finished you can exit back to the main screen.

    Now, all you need to do is enter the dailing string of the endpoint with which you wish to communicate. In my example, I dialed into a meeting room on our Polycom RMX 2000 bridge.

    In my situation I simply dailed into the entry queue of our video conferencing bridge.

    I then had to choose which conference room I wanted use. Another nice feature of the software when specifically dealing with video conferencing bridges is support for DTMF tones to allow you to interact with the bridge just like an IVR on a phone system. Just tap the screen and then select the dialing pad and enter the room number. If you're dailing directly to another endpoint, you won't need to worry about this step.

    Before going through this tutorial, I had already dialed one of our Sony G50 endpoints into the same meeting room. So once the above step was complete, voila! I had a full VC session going with my other endpoint from my iPad.

    And that's really all there is to it. It really is a wonderful piece of software and how can you argue with the price (free)!

    Ernest A.
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