Hackensack-based Vidyo, which previously attempted to disrupt the business market with its low cost platform for video conferencing, took a major step into the mass consumer market today when it announced that Nintendo would be embedding its platform in the Wii U Console and the Wii U social gaming network Miiverse.
The collaboration is a major coup for Vidyo which has been skeptically viewed as an industry upstart. The company already had one toe in the consumer market since it powers Google Hangouts.
According to an interview by Nintendo Global President Satoru Iwata published on the Nintendo website, Nintendo approached Vidyo, not the other way around. Genyo Takeda, managing director of Nintendo and general manager of the integrated research and development division, knew someone who works for Vidyo and made the connection. The company was investigating the feasibility of incorporating video conferencing into the gaming product, but didn’t know if it was a stable enough technology. The Wii U was designed with an internal camera.
As Atsushi Wanatabe of Nintendo’s integrated research and development division design technology group explained, when there is trouble with the network, the system will pixelate. However, Vidyo’s communication method is “capable of monitoring the connection status in real time and dynamically adjusts the signal to the optimum bitrate so there are minimum amount of interruptions. Because of this, when there's a problem with the network, the resolution is lowered slightly, but you can still watch the video without noticing much of a difference.”
Vidyo is backed in a major way by Juniper Networks Junos Innovation Fund, with Menlo Ventures, Rho Ventures, Star Ventures and Four Rivers Group involved in its Series D in May, 2012. Vidyo has raised about $97 million in financing thus far.
Nintendo anticipates shipping 5.5 million units of Wii U hardware and 24 million units of Wii U software this fiscal year alone, Nintendo sources say. The company’s communication technology will be embedded into each shipped unit, creating an enormous user base of Vidyo enabled consumers. The open platform allows game developers to easily embed video chat and multiparty video into their games, a Vidyo spokesman added.
Ofer Shapiro, CEO and co-founder at Vidyo, said, “Through this collaboration, we’ll be adding Wii U consoles to the pool of Vidyo enabled systems which will build critical mass around Vidyo’s scalable architecture and software platform.” He added that Vidyo was excited to have Nintendo as a partner since it is one of the best known companies in the world.
Vidyo added that previous attempts to bring video conferencing into the living room have failed – due to high price points, complicated deployments and purpose built hardware. Integrating Vidyo into the Wii U console represents the first time visual communications has been delivered into the living room and on the existing television and multi-purpose device – at a price point that fits the consumer market.