The Planets Align for Telepresence

Carl Weinschenk

Telepresence is pricey. Very pricey. It begins to make sense, however, when real-world scenarios are considered. In fact, the costs of not using such systems can be greater than plunking down a few hundred thousand dollars for a platform. The difference is that the traditional costs of multiple trips, usually for several people -- airplane tickets, hotels and meals, lost revenue from unproductive travel time -- don't seem as great because they are familiar and accepted.


The field appears to be moving forward. This release describes Qualcomm's use of Teliris' VirtuaLive Modular to improve communications and create "deeper integration" between headquarters in San Diego and research facilities in Campbell, Calif., and Bridgewater, N.J. Alongside the self-congratulatory boilerplate that characterizes this type of press release, the idea comes through that telepresence can be a key tactic for geographically diverse companies, including those that work in highly complex fields that demand close collaboration.


Another piece of good news for the telepresence sector is that prices tend to decline over time. Earlier this month, Frost & Sullivan named Telanetix -- a telepresence company that serves smaller organizations -- its 2008 North American emerging company award in the telepresence category. The director of Frost & Sullivan's conferencing practice said the firm was impressed by Telanetix's creation of a system for under $100,000, about one-third of the price of many other telepresence platforms.


The filling out of a distribution channel is most likely a sign that telepresence is making progress. This week, Tandberg announced accreditations for resellers of its Experia telepresence platform. The story, which seems to be a reprinted press release, says Experia offers "perceived" eye contact, fluid motion, spatial audio, high-definition video and one-touch connectivity. The system is best used with a maximum of six persons per site. The accreditation is part of the company's Envision channel partner program.


There seems to be a quiet move toward telepresence, which some folks see as the next logical step to teleconferencing. User-Centric Enterprise Architecture has a good, in-depth explanation of telepresence. While the overall definition can be intuitively grasped from the name, the posting goes into a good deal more detail. For instance, the blogger offers insight into what experts consider to be requirements in terms of displays, cameras, audio and data.


The sector also seems to be evolving quickly. In this interesting Q&A with TelePresence Technologies' CEO Duffie White at Human Productivity Lab describes the company's work in three-dimensional telepresence. The piece originally was posted at Wainhouse Research.

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