Cisco's Winning Telepresence by Mark Veverka
Summary: Plugged In editor Mark Veverka says the long-awaited promise of teleconferencing is here. Gone are the disruptive delays and tortured interfaces. Today's iterations -- called telepresence -- are slick, hi-res, and CEO-proof. Veverka tested Cisco's lower-end WebEx with a co-worker; by the end of their meeting, he claims, they had forgotten they weren't in the same room. "It's that good." Telepresence requires a dedicated room, 1-3 high-def video panels, mounted cameras, separate screens for slides, and a table. Participants look each other in the eye from across their (cross-continent) tables, and their voices come through from a speaker beneath their images to facilitate audio-location. Meetings are setup with Microsoft Outlook, and launched by the touch of a button. Retail cost for a three-screen room: $300K, with no monthly fees (it runs on enterprise broadband). Vendors: Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), Polycom Inc. (PLCM), Telanetix (TNXI.PK) and HP's (HPQ) high-end Halo.
Related Links: Cisco CEO John Chambers Envisions A Collaborative Future • Little Telanetix Shows Full-Size Capability - Barron's • Polycom Discusses Telecommuting • Hidden Trends and the Sectors They Drive - Barron's Interviews Charles Hess