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In 1984, Concept Communication in the United States replaced the then-100 pound, US0,000 computers necessary for teleconferencing, with a ,000 circuit board that doubled the video frame rate from 15 up to 30 frames per second, and which reduced the equipment to the size of a circuit board fitting into standard personal computers.
Videoconferencing systems throughout the 1990s rapidly evolved from very expensive proprietary equipment, software and network requirements to a standards-based technology readily available to the general public at a reasonable cost.
Although not as widely used in everyday communications as audio-only and text communication, useful applications include sign language transmission for deaf and speech-impaired people, distance education, telemedicine, and overcoming mobility issues.
It is also used in commercial and corporate settings to facilitate meetings and conferences, typically between parties that already have established relationships.
The news media were to become regular users of mobile links to satellites using specially equipped trucks, and much later via special satellite videophones in a briefcase.
This technique was very expensive, though, and could not be used for applications such as telemedicine, distance education, and business meetings.
During this time, there was also research into other forms of digital video and audio communication.
Many of these technologies, such as the Media space, are not as widely used today as videoconferencing but were still an important area of research.
The greater 1 MHz bandwidth and 6 Mbit/s bit rate of the AT&T Picturephone in the 1970s also did not achieve commercial success, mostly due to its high cost, but also due to a lack of network effect — with only a few hundred Picturephones in the world, users had extremely few contacts they could actually call to, and interoperability with other videophone systems would not exist for decades.
Telepresence may refer either to a high-quality videotelephony system (where the goal is to create the illusion that remote participants are in the same room) or to meetup technology which goes beyond video into robotics (such as moving around the room or physically manipulating objects).
Videoconferencing has also been called "visual collaboration" and is a type of groupware.
In 1995 the first public videoconference between North America and Africa took place, linking a technofair in San Francisco with a techno-rave and cyberdeli in Cape Town.
At the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Nagano, Japan, Seiji Ozawa conducted the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony simultaneously across five continents in near-real time.
A number of organizations believed that videotelephony would be superior to plain voice communications.