Attendees at the ITSPA Summer Forum sat on one side of an oval conference table that was mirrored on 4 large screens in front of us. A Polycom representative (sorry didn’t catch his name) did the spiel from the other room located in Slough.
It was as if he was in the same room and he could even hear the side conversations going on on our side of the table. I’m not the first to spout on about telepresence so this is nothing new but when you do see it you are bowled over and I had to comment.
Couple of thoughts stuck in my mind. We are talking a list price of $650k per room here – thats for 18 seats. Each screen also uses 4Mbps of bandwidth which ain’t bad and there is a new codec coming out in October that will reduce this by 30% or more. All in all very impressive.
This isn’t a volume sell though. Whilst the business case likely sells itself if it saves flying 18 people half way across the world the market, at least for the high end telepresence room, must be restricted to large corporations.
The only negative I took away was that in order for the person in the other room to appear to be looking at me he had to look straight into the camera whilst it is more intuitive to look directly at the person on the screen which then makes it look as if he isn’t looking at you (if you get my drift). The benefits massively outweigh this minor niggle.
Anyway well done Polycom. Pictures below are of the two halves of the room – taken from my phone so they don’t fully do justice to the room but at least it gives you an idea.