Back in January I wrote a post titled Telepresence which covered the concept of extending the Citrix model to better simulate remote environments for the sake of working together across great distances. Recently I attended a Gartner conference in Sydney where Cisco was demonstrating a solution which far exceeded anything I had seen before. Cisco has built a solution that includes not only technology but also the environment to help fool the mind that the meeting is local.
I was taken to a meeting room in North Sydney at the Cisco building there and shown the latest release of Cisco TelePresence . The demonstration used a connection to Singapore. There were no noticeable glitches and the quality for sound and video was excellent. It is a real product and not just a demo. The essence of this product is that it creates the illusion of a meeting room where half of the participants are not in the room. The standard configuration with the 3000 model is to allow for six people sitting on each side.
After the session, it became clear that this would be a boon to business travelers. Instead of having to conduct in person meetings at the cost of thousands (including air fare and lodging), it is possible to use this technology instead. One fellow participant told me afterwards that the system would easily pay for itself in a very short period of time.
I would tend to agree. The initial use case would be for meetings between companies across different countries. It is also clear that it would most benefit executives dealing with very large companies with multiple sites. The cost is still high enough that it could not be justified for every type of meeting but the technology trend points to a time whereby it becomes very easy for an average worker to use this model.
I confess that it would be a great help to me with the meetings that I have. At this point I would not be able to recommend it for my sake due the the complexity of duplicating the environment and the costs associated with both the technology and the “remodeling”.
The first conclusion from this thought is that they will eventually use green screen technology to merge environments so that the furniture fit out wouldn’t be so costly. Of course this probably ruins the illusion on the local side. Also, the trend is towards using holographic projection instead of screens to create a more 3d effect.
Take a look at this latest revelation from Cisco about where this is going. This is a YouTube video shown to me at the conference which shows that Cisco is very keen to progress this technology. Cisco TelePresence Magic video is a good example whereby the area is ripe for introduction. I thought this would take many years to evolve but now I think it is more likely to happen very quickly in the next five to ten years.