Rewiring For Audio Conferencing
Back in the day, smoke signals were good enough for the American Indians. They would control the size and shape of the puffs to signify different things. In this way, coherent messages could actually be relayed over a distance. But poor visibility or a torrential downpour would make them pretty much useless. And smoke puffs weren’t varied enough to convey anything truly complex anyway.
Ring Mah Bell?
Then along came Thomas Graham Bell and his marvelous invention, the telephone. Suddenly, people could actually hear one another over a distance too great to be covered by even the loudest human voice. It converted sound into electric signals at one end.
These signals would then be carried over wire and converted back into audio on the other end. In its current incarnation, the telephone does this in virtually no time at all. And now, the advent of cellular phone technology and satellite communications means that wires are no longer a constraining factor.
Get The Party Started!
But what happens when a number of people want to engage simultaneously in conversation using current technology? No, they don’t all gather around one telephone and yell over the handset so they can be heard. How would they hear the other party? A speaker phone partially solves that problem if there are only two groups of people that want to interact.
But what if there are more than two groups of people? What if different individuals in multiple locations want to speak to one another in real-time? Since telephones were first designed as a point-to-point method, something else had to be developed. Enter audio conferencing.
Audio conferencing takes the conventional telephone technology and expands it into a much more flexible communication tool. It does this by allowing three or more callers to connect to a conference bridge. So instead of the phone call going to a single recipient, it connects to this point which serves as the connection point for all the other parties that will be in on the call.
A slightly different example would be audio conferencing within a limited geographical area, say an office building. All calls for parties within the building don’t go out into the larger phone system. They are connected through what is called a PBX or private branch exchange. In essence, this is a miniature telephone network for that building.
Audio conferencing has also been adapted for use with the Internet. This is usually referred to as VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol. In this case, the audio is converted into digital data to be transmitted over the Internet.
Audio conferencing is a prime example of a simple idea that maximized what was available to become a reality. The telephone was a world-changing invention. Audio conferencing is the interconnected world striking back. It is the development of a technology into a ubiquitous fixture of boardrooms and bedrooms alike. Connecting groups of people for business and pleasure alike, audio conferencing will no doubt be a fixture from boardrooms to bedrooms.