Telepresence tech enters the fray

With telelconferencing set to go mainstream, CommsMEA examines the latest tech on offer.

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By  Administrator Published  January 22, 2008

While video conferencing equipment has been available since the 1970s, it is only recently that technology and communications networks have advanced sufficiently to make teleconferencing user friendly and cost effective.

And in the past couple of years, numerous companies, including Sony, Cisco and HP have entered the industry, joining more established teleconferencing players such as Polycom and Tandberg.

The latest breed of teleconferencing equipment, which is usually referred to as ‘telepresence' uses large format, high definition screens combined with high quality acoustics to allow a group of people across two or more locations to hold a face-to-face meeting.

While it is too early to determine sales trends of telepresence equipment, the initial indications are that it will be a hit, as multinational corporations seek to improve communications across multiple sites and also cut down on unnecessary international travel, in a bid to cut costs and reduce their carbon emissions.

Furthermore, while the cost of telepresence equipment remains high - Cisco's TelePresence 3000 across two sites can cost around US$500,000 and Polycom's RealPresence is around the million-dollar mark and above - these prices could fall as sales increase. Equipment manufacturers also claim that companies can make major savings by adopting the technology. For example, Cisco, which has been using its TelePresence internally at more than 100 of its offices, said the solution is projected to save $240 million in three years, counting from October 2006.

Furthermore, as networks become more advanced, so telepresence equipment is also more likely to fall within the reach of a greater number of potential customers. CommsMEA looks at some of the equipment available.

Sony's PCS-G50P and PCS-G70P

Sony has a range of video conferencing equipment, including desktop, boardroom, and large screen equipment for clients that are hosting bigger conferences.

Key Features: Sony's PCS-G50P and PCS-G70P are ideal for boardrooms and larger meeting rooms, where conferences are likely to involve a larger number of participants. High audio and video quality is complemented by "power-user" features like high-resolution data sharing and dual live video streams, allowing a second camera to provide coverage of another part of the meeting room.

Middle East Sony distributor: Jumbo Electronics.

Cisco TelePresence

Cisco, which rolled out its telepresence offering in October 2007, said its aim is to make users "forget they are in different rooms thousands of miles apart." As the telepresence category grows, Cisco intends to develop additional applications tailored for specific industries, such as healthcare, retail, banking, entertainment and government.

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