by April 1, 2009 0 comments



In this article we would be introducing a few Tele-Presence solutions one can
use but before that let us explore how telepresence is different from
conventional videoconferencing. The only difference between these two
technologies is the feel factor. Tele-Presence is more near to in-person feel
than conventional videoconferencing. Now the question arises what are the
factors that have evolved videoconferencing into Tele-Presence? The answer to
this question lies in technological advances. Here are some of the factors
responsible for emergence of telepresence :

High-quality audio and video
While video technology has moved from standard definition to high
definition, audio has moved from low bandwidth to stereo sound. These are two
important pillars of Tele-Presence. There is a continuous need for jitter free
video feed with adequate resolution plus there is high quality audio feed free
of noise. Multi-channel audio used in Tele-Presence gives directional cues
making it possible to differentiate who is speaking in a meeting. Other aspect
is non-recognizable delay between audio and video.

Simplicity
Not everyone using video conferencing is comfortable with technology. Most
of the time spent in setting up a video conferencing call involves complex
steps. On the other hand, using Tele-Presence solution is relatively easy to
use. Other important aspect of high end Tele-Presence solutions that gives a
real life feel is that technology is hidden, making everyone concentrate on the
meeting.

High reliability
One can do with poor audio or video quality but if there is an important
meeting in progress, loss of connection can have very negative effects.
Tele-Presence solutions are engineered in such a way that reliability is
guaranteed.

Environmental factors
In high end Tele-Presence solutions, besides feeds and reliability,
environmental factors also play an important role. Furniture of room along with
lighting is done in such a way that a person sitting at different geographical
locations gets in-person feel of attendees. Video cameras and mikes are hidden
and placed appropriately to give directional cues.

Besides these factors, availability of bandwidth and high definition display
screens has made people ask for more than conventional videoconferencing
solutions.

Tele-Presence solutions from Polycom
Polycom has categorized their telepresence solutions into three categories. Here
is a brief introduction of these solutions. Price varies from US$ 9,000 to US$
500,000.


How much can you save
It is very
obvious that one can save money if he/she is not traveling, however, the
other savings is that of environment from Carbon Dioxide emissions. Polycom
saved US $100,000 using their own solution. They conducted their recent Asia
Pacific quarterly meeting using Telepresence and videoconferencing
solutions. Besides saving a lot of money and time they also saved
approximately 22,500 Kg in Carbon dioxide emissions. Even If we consider
deployment costs of the solution, which are quite high, a lot of money can
still be saved in the long run.

Personal Tele-Presence
As name suggests this is a Tele-Presence solution for individuals and small
teams. Features of this product that differentiate it from other Polycom
Tele-Presence solutions is its portability, making it easy to move around with.
The unit usually is a screen capable of displaying high definition images with
attached high definition cameras. Polycom HDX 400 Series falls under this
category that gives you HD video, HD audio and HD content on your desktop. HDX
400 series comes with a 20.1 inch screen that delivers true HD video at
1280×720(720p) resolution. Besides this there is capability to share content
that includes CAD drawings, movies, etc and HD audio experience.

Room Tele-Presence
One notch above personal telepresence solution this series is meant for
meeting rooms and lecture halls. Polycom HDX 9000, 8000 and 7000 series falls
under this category. These solutions along with HDX Media Center provide high
quality conferencing experience. Key features include 22KHz audio in surround
sound, Lost Packet Recovery technology for enhanced experience on public network
and HD video.

Immersive Tele-Presence
This is the most expensive solution but at the same time closest to
in-person experience. A lot of emphasis is given in hiding technology from users
and showing participants in true dimensions. Besides this, the environment is
built in such a way that one feels the other person is sitting across the table.
Polycom RPXHD 400, 200 series and TPXHD 306M fall in this category. We were able
to experience RPXHD 400 series solution and found it very involving and
state-of-the-art. Though one can get best experience only if there is immersive
setup on both ends, even a connection with personal telepresence from an
immersive setup was reliable and effective.

Telepresence solutions from Tandberg
Similar to Polycom, Tandberg also categorizes their Tele-Presence solutions
into three categories:

Personal Tele-Presence 1700 MXP
This is a desktop Tele-Presence unit with 20 inch screen and inbuilt HD
video camera. Installation of this unit is very easy and it took few minutes to
set it up, just give a public IP and power supply and you are done. This unit
comes with easy to use remote control device further enhancing ease of
operation. To make a Tele-Presence call just press a button and put public IPs
or URLs of other participants. This unit also allows connection to your computer
making it possible to share presentations with single button click.

Immersive Tele-Presence T1
Using this solution, meant for small rooms, one can communicate using a 65
inch LCD screen with a HD resolution up to 1080p. Along with HD quality display,
this solution also comes with HD audio and HD content sharing capabilities.

Immersive Executive Tele-Presence T3
This solution from Tandberg is closest to in-person feel. Besides three 65
inches screens, it also includes system, table, three personal touch
collaborative screens and ceiling-mounted lighting to give better experience.
Room packages are also included to enhance environment around the room. One
point to note here is interoperability of different solutions. The solutions
covered in this article run on open standards so we were able to connect to
Tandberg’s Personal Tele-Presence 1700 MXP using Polycom’s room Tele-Presence
solution without any difficulty.

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