Successful Meetings - October 2007 - (Page 16)

Technology Talk > By Michael Goldstein The Next Best Thing Telepresence is the state of being present at a location other than your true location. It doesn’t involve being teleported to a remote location, or communicating with peers through telepathy. But it is, arguably, the next best thing to actually being there. SUPER VIDEOCONFERENCING Although telepresence advocates want to short-circuit memories of jerky video and blank screens, audio dropouts, pain-in-the-butt usability, and frantic calls to the IT help desk, telepresence technology is nevertheless a form of videoconferencing. The difference is that “telepresence allows meeting planners to guarantee a consistent high-quality experience every time,” according to Steve Vobbe, director of strategic alliances for New York City-based videoconferencing provider Tandberg. “It creates the perception that you are in the same room as the other participants. The quality gives you confidence that you can be just as effective over video as in person.” What makes a telepresence room differ from desktop or cartbased videoconference systems is that it enables you to see up to six participants from around the world almost life-sized. As Cisco likes to put it, “body language is business language.” Three big plasma monitors, plus high-definition cameras and microphones, allow you to make direct eye contact, see people left, right, and center—and everyone sounds as if they’re in the same place. Right now it’s a relatively small business. Research analyst Nora Freedman, with IDC’s Enterprise Networking group, says telepresence sales were $169 million in 2007 and are expected to grow to $1 billion by 2011. While the majority of telepresence installations at Cisco and HP are for internal use, PepsiCo, Wachovia, GE Commercial Finance, AMD, and Canon are corporate customers. IS TELEPRESENCE FOR REAL? The promised benefits sound familiar: less time out of the office; increasing interaction with coworkers, partners, and customers; and extending and maintaining key business relationships between inperson visits. Analyst Freedman says telepresence also promises to cut your “company’s carbon footprint and lower travel expenses and travel burnout. It’s videoconferencing deja vu all over again.” The problem is cost. To make it work, you’ll need cameras, lighting arrays, microphones, monitors, furniture, and software—with the exact same room set up in each city. An HP Halo room with Tandberg technology costs about $339,000, according to Veeba. Freedman says costs range from $300,00 to $500,000 per room, and $15,000 to $20,000 for bandwidth, using connections that range from a pair of 3-mbps (megabits per second) up to a 45-mbps DS-3 line. Further, Cisco’s telepresence solution will require massive upgrades on most corporate networks to allow them to carry multiple high-definition video streams. HP has a different idea—a “concierge,” or managed service approach—that for $18,000 to $25,000 per month will supply all the bandwidth and technical support needed to manage your calls. HP’s Halo system can now also communicate with more basic videoconferencing systems, like Tandberg’s 6000 MXP Profile ($35,000 for one 50-inch screen). THE BOTTOM LINE “For the level of cost involved, we’re really talking about a corporate-jet-replacement market,” says Freedman. “But telepresence is a completely immersive videoconferencing experience, closely simulating an in-person meeting. As the burden of business travel increases, if I could do four remote meetings a day, with no airport parking, security hassles, or dumping liquids to deal with, it would be pretty tempting.” ILLUSTRATION: BEATTA SZPURA Extra Bytes: Projector Control with Memory Have to give presentations, but tired of carrying a laptop? Gyration’s Gyrotransport ($149.95) is a pocket-sized wireless “air mouse” you can use to control a computer as you walk around on stage. It also packs a 16 gigabyte of memory, so you can store your presentation and go—no need to lug your laptop! Supporting both PCs and Apples, it includes GyroTools software to help you create and give presentations. OCTOBER 2007 SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Successful Meetings - October 2007

Successful Meetings - October 2007
Editor's Note
On the Record
Technology Talk
Mouth for Sale
On Site
Tools of the Trade
Striking a Balanace
IACC’s New Generation
Suffering from “Green” Fatigue?
There Once Was a Group in Nantucket . . .
A Trick and a Treat
Places & Spaces
Reno / Lake Tahoe
New Orleans
Los Cabos & Baja
Ontario Province

Successful Meetings - October 2007