In his report, “The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch: 2011 To 2013” Gene Leganza names telepresence as a tech trend to watch. 42% of respondents to the August 2010 Tech Trends survey said telepresence would have a strong impact over the next two years. Why? Because telepresence deliver life like video across distances, making telepresence meetings as similar to live meetings as possible when participants can’t get together face to face – and in today’s economic situation companies continue to trim travel budgets and look for economies wherever they can. Many clients I have spoken with have paid for their telepresence deployments in under a year, and others have touted significant business gains from being able to meet more often and more effectively with a wider cross-section of experts, decision makers and other stakeholders. With this significant value statement, telepresence seems like an obvious choice so why has it not taken off? The answerer is simple and lies in Metcalf’s Law.
Today, Cisco unveiled its home telepresence solution called Umi (prounounced you-me, get it?). For those of us who aren't familiar with Cisco's use of the term telepresence, it's a term it coined to describe the very impressive (and very expensive) enterprise immersive videoconferencing experience it provides to businesses around the world. In the home, it basically means TV-based videoconferencing.
The home offering is similar to the enterprise version in two key ways -- it is also impressive and expensive. Starting November 14, affluent consumers who really want to connect with family across great distances (and who are either unaware of or uninterested in Skype) can put down $599 and sign up for a $24.99 monthly Umi service fee and become HD videoconferencers. I tried the system in a real home and I'll admit the quality is eye-opening. As is the price. Read more of the details here in this post from CNET, but some of the less obvious points include: video voicemail, video voicegreetings, and the ability to record video messages when not connected to someone else. The camera rests above your TV screen and makes for one of the most believable videoconference setups I've seen (the person you speak to actually appears to be looking at you, imagine that). The whole experience rides on top of the existing video input so that while you watch TV you can see a message indicating a call is coming in. Choose not to take it and it will go to video voicemail. There are nice touches like a privacy-minded sliding shutter over the camera (complete with "shooshing" noise when the shutter closes) that helps you know via the senses of sight and sound that your camera is not on. So go ahead and give the missus a kiss while on the couch, no one is looking.
I just returned from Cisco Networkers 2010 in Bahrain, and wanted to put a few thoughts to paper (or the electronic equivalent). First of all, thank you Cisco. What a fantastic event for all involved!
The event was held at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), and boasted attendance of over 3,000 delegates from Bahrain and more than 60 other countries. Not only was the event an opportunity for technical training for the attendees but it was also an opportunity for local Cisco partners to present their products and solutions. Both are consistent with Cisco’s emerging markets strategy of country transformation – to create an environment conducive to expanding opportunity in emerging markets rather than merely exploiting existing opportunity. Cisco works with governments and other non-governmental organizations in certain emerging markets to help develop the ICT infrastructure and local technical skills in order to build the market, and further enable economic development of the country. Holding Networkers 2010 in Bahrain demonstrated Cisco’s commitment to their country transformation strategy.