Video E-mail Patent Awarded

There is e-mail and then there is video e-mail. And an Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based software company is hoping you’ll notice the difference.

Just to make sure, the wireless and broadband division of Smith Micro Software Thursday said it has received a U.S. patent covering key technology in its VideoLink Mail platform.

Products in this area of technology are generally referred to as Video E-mail or Video Mail applications. The company said the patent (No. 6,564,248) relates to techniques for generating and playing encoded video, audio and text sequences that are sent as e-mail messages over digital communications networks such as the Internet.

According to the patent, the technology uses standard audio and video components of the message are recorded, encoded, and synchronously combined into a video message file. A player is selectively attached to the video message file to create an executable file, which can be delivered as a standard binary file over conventional communications networks.

To view the received video e-mail, the recipient executes the received file and the attached player automatically plays the video and audio message or the recipient executes the previously installed player, which plays the video message.

Forrester Research is currently predicting that by 2005, video e-mail or pointers to rich media content will replace text messages as the main online communication mechanism.

Already, Yahoo! has launched its version of video e-mail courtesy of an outsourcing agreement with San Mateo, Calif.-based SpotLife.

But company president and CEO William Smith Jr. wants to take video e-mail to the next level and says his Video E-Mail technology could be particularly important to the wireless wide-area network and Wi-Fi market and other broadband networks where bandwidth is at a premium.

“The recent growth in wireless-based high-speed communications arena as well as the renewed interest in video communications provide opportunities to actively license this video e-mail technology to a vast number of hardware and software providers,” Smith said in a statement.

Smith Micro also has a variety of communication and utility software, including applications for sending and receiving faxes, videoconferencing, and mixing voice, fax, and data communications. Other products include personal firewall and system utility and diagnostic software.

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