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Polycom Telepresence impresses ITSPA

I’ve only seen a single screen telepresence demo before and that was on a noisy exhibition floor.  At Polycom’s City Executive Briefing Centre yesterday I was treated the to a full blown demo and boy was it impressive.  The quality was astounding.

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.

Polycom executive speaks to ITSPA from identical  telepresence room in Slough
Polycom executive speaks to ITSPA from identical telepresence room in Slough
ITSPA members talking during Polycom telepresence demo
ITSPA members talking during Polycom telepresence demo
Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

3 replies on “Polycom Telepresence impresses ITSPA”

“Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.”

Kahlil Gibran “A Handful of Sand on the Shore”

“For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see, saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

Bring on the fibre.

Tref – If you know a travel agent have him or her give you a London – New York vs. London – Edinburgh for eighteen people package. Just median air fare vs. median rail fare. That $650K will look a whole lot more reasonable in view of the base travel expense. Those who’ve done business travel will know to factor in meals and deferred workloads due to being away from the office.

Also, I hear that the latest version of Apple’s iPhone has a videophone feature. If so, then the low end, single-user price per person is roughly $260 (list + tax + shipping + case). Now, if that jumbo display can merge in some single-user clients like the iPhone 4 and Skype then it would really be sweet.

P.S. Telepresence would have been very useful on some of my technical support calls in the past. On one occasion I had to talk a senior manager through the PC equivalent of a brain transplant. Had I been able to see what she was doing it would have been easier for both of us.

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