Up close and personal with telepresence

* Telepresence news at VoiceCon 2008

One of the most visible interest areas at last week's VoiceCon 2008 conference was the advances in and business uses of telepresence and IP-based video conferencing. While the actual definition of telepresence was as varied as the number of demonstrations, we will loosely define telepresence as interpersonal interactions that give participants the sense they are in the same location; telepresence relies on bi-directional high-quality audio and video systems to create the illusion of proximity.

 One such telepresence interaction at VoiceCon was a discussion focused on mitigating climate change that was moderated by a journalist in London, with Cisco Chief Marketing Officer Sue Bostrom onstage at VoiceCon, John Chambers joining from Cisco headquarters in San Jose, and Nobel Laureate Al Gore from Nashville. The discussion was displayed live to international audiences in London, Paris, Dubai, and Warsaw, and a replay of the discussion is available at Cisco's site.

While road warriors welcome the opportunity to take one less trip and CFOs may find bottom-line improvements and the environment also benefits from telepresence. For example, according to Cisco’s pre-meeting statement, “by using Cisco TelePresence and avoiding unnecessary travel, Mr. Gore, Mr. Chambers and their staff will avoid approximately 4.2 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions based on current calculations performed by DOMANI, a sustainability management consulting firm, and the University of California, San Diego. This is equivalent to the amount of CO2 associated with the electricity use of one home for six months.”

Polycom also had some telepresence-related news and announced an expanded relationship with Microsoft, and demonstrated compatibility between Polycom's visual communications solutions and Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007. Polycom has a broad portfolio of integrated high-definition voice and visual communications products that include telepresence for Microsoft unified communications platform, including phones designed specifically for Office Communications Server 2007.

Polycom endpoints and infrastructure will connect to OCS 2007 using session initiation protocol (SIP), enabling desktop video collaboration applications with HD visual communications endpoints, using one-click video collaboration within the Microsoft unified communications platform from a contact list, as an escalation of an instant messaging session, or as part of a communications enabled business process, according to the company. Customers will also be able to securely deploy video communications across corporate boundaries.

Next time: Contact-center news from VoiceCon.

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