"Streaming technology has been around for 10 years, and it still hasn't been mainstreamed. Why is that?"

That was the provocative question posed by James Dias, vice president of marketing and sales of Sonic Foundry, during his well-attended session at the Streaming Media Pavilion Theater at InfoComm04. Dias went on to explain how streaming has suffered from being too difficult to use and too reliant on single videoscreen interfaces. But new products hitting the market are solving those problems, he said, and the InfoComm attendees sitting in on his session were eager to hear about the details.

Held from June 5 to 11 in Atlanta, InfoComm04 enjoyed a record turnout, attracting nearly 22,500 attendees, representing a 12% increase over last year's attendance figures. The show, which is the premiere annual event for the professional audiovisual community, also attracted a record 647 exhibiting companies, a 16% increase over last year.

While streaming-media technology has only recently come onto the radar screen of the audiovisual community, judging from the interest shown by InfoComm04 attendees in the Streaming Media Pavilion, interest in the technology is strong and growing.

For the second year in a row, InfoComm, sponsored by the International Communications Industries Association (ICIA), included a Streaming Media Pavilion on its show floor, and participation in it by both attendees and exhibitors increased over the preceding year. The Pavilion was a 10,000 square-foot area dedicated to exhibitors specializing in streaming technologies, applications, and services. The Pavilion also featured a theater area where industry experts presented 10 hour-long sessions devoted to various streaming topics.

Developed by ICIA in partnership with Sound & Video Contractor, Video Systems and SRO magazines, this year's Streaming Media Pavilion attracted more than 20 different exhibiting companies, including such industry-leading companies as Sonic Foundry, Interactive Video Technology, VBrick Systems, Video Bank, Adtec, Philips, Serious Magic, NewTek, and Canopus.

As for the sessions offered in the Pavilion Theater, those attracted nearly 200 attendees, many of whom had only a limited knowledge of streaming but were eager to learn more.

Besides the session offered by Dias entitled "The Mainstreaming of Streaming Media: Moving Beyond the Basics," the Streaming Media Pavilion Theater featured sessions about the use of streaming for corporate webcasting, the use of streaming in higher education, and the value of using private video networks to deliver and manage streamed content in retail, hotel, corporate, and other environments.

In one popular session entitled "Tips and Tricks for Successfully Webcasting a Live Event," Eric Manchester, senior live events producer for America Online, shared some of his thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of webcasting a live event as well as some advice on how to ensure that a webcast goes off without a hitch.

In another session, entitled "Selecting the Right Webcasting Strategy for Your Company," Gary White, manager of global networks for Coca-Cola, explained how his company originally brought in streaming to webcast executive briefings and town hall-type meetings. But, he said, "We quickly realized we needed a larger vision."

Today, he said, Coca-Cola is using streaming to communicate with business partners and remote regional offices, pull in broadcasts for shareholder meetings, conduct lunch and learn educational sessions, and more.

While the expanded use of streaming forced the company to "rethink the paradigm for our network" so that it was more interactive and more integrated with various applications, the implementation of streaming, said White, has improved company communications, enhanced employee productivity, and saved money previously spent on travel.