Imagine you’re in the United States, but you speak no English. You fall ill and go to the hospital but you can’t tell the doctor that your pain is sharp and radiates from front to back; that you’re allergic to penicillin; that you have a history of asthma. You’re being seen in the best health-care system in the world, but you can’t access it because the doctor doesn’t understand you.
You fear a misunderstanding could kill you, or you’ll die waiting for them to find someone who speaks your language.
Your physician pulls out his iPad and in seconds you’re talking to a professional interpreter via a high-definition video conference call. This person can see you point to and explain your pain; she can follow along as the physician examines you. If your illness is serious, this phone call may have just saved your life.
That’s the vision of Stratus Video (www.stratusvideo.com), a company that launched in early 2011 as the corporate child of a national video relay services provider for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. The Z, as that service is now called, was the first to offer 24/7 availability and is utilized in government agencies and businesses across the country, including the Social Security Administration, Boeing Corp. and Wal-Mart.
The future of that technology is one that saves both businesses and consumers time, money and frustration, says Sean Belanger, CEO of Stratus Video, which is already providing on-demand video interpreting service for hospital patients with limited or no English.
“With the enormous success of our products and services, we are moving into a new era of video technology,” Belanger says. “On-demand, high-definition mobile video conferencing linked to a 24/7 call center can solve life-or-death problems, like the hospital patient who needs an interpreter fast. And it can make life much simpler for both service providers and customers, like the client who can’t figure out how to install his printer cartridge.”
The technology lays the foundation for simplifying life — for consumers who access call centers to resolve problems and the support people who answer those calls, Belanger says.
“We’re not far from a future where your Maytag repairman dials into a call center from the field for live video support,” Belanger said. “Or the customer herself calls in and is visually instructed on how she can replace the part herself. Instead of the customer and the support person wasting their time struggling to communicate, problems get resolved quickly.”
The company offers three video relay services that lay the groundwork for that vision:
• ZVRI is a video language interpretation tool. It’s cloud-based and provides on-demand video interpretation for American Sign Language and spoken languages.
• Video Call Center integrates video communication into customer service for face-to-face communications, while making it easier for employees to do their jobs more efficiently.
• ViewME is a cloud-based high-definition video communication tool that links business employees, customers and suppliers.
“The world has gone video,” Belanger says. “Video phone technology adaption is increasing at a rapid pace. Every day, 23 million Skype users are on-line; YouTube serves more than 2 billion videos per day. Personal adaption of video is across the all age groups, not just the 14- to 35-year-olds.”
Want to look into the future? It’s face-to-face contact, now acceptable for business class, on all of your mobile devices.
Sean Belanger is the chief executive officer of Clearwater, Fla.-based CSDVRS, the parent company of Stratus Video, and CEO of Stratus. A graduate of Virginia Tech, he has 30 years’ experience in the technology industry. He previously served as CEO of the Paradyne Networks and general manager of 3Coms’ network service provider division.