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Cisco tweaks telepresence for the whiteboard

April 14, 2008 | Chris Payatagool

zdnet.gifBy Larry Dignan

Cisco is taking its telepresence video codec and moving it to a virtual whiteboard.

At the Gartner Emerging Technologies Conference Tuesday, Cisco's Guido Jouret outlined a virtual whiteboard technology that the networking giant has in its labs. The term telepresence refers to videoconferencing applications that feel like a live meeting.

In a nutshell, two people 1,000s of miles apart can collaborate on a white board simultaneously. The one person not in the room appears lighter in contrast as his image is projected onto the screen. Cisco is playing with the screen technology and other video "trickery" to make two folks appear to be live.

It's unclear when this virtual whiteboard technology would actually become a real product, but it was an interesting demo.

Other telepresence odds and ends:

    * Cisco is doing a virtual health care pilot with the Scotland's national health service. The idea here is that patients and doctors can meet via telepresence.

    * Is telepresence too impersonal? "The quality of the technology can overcome some of the impersonal worries," he said.

    * Implementation lessons. The biggest issue with telepresence systems is figuring out where employees interact so anyone examining these installations should "interrogate the travel department" first to find travel budget patterns. Lower travel budgets are the primary return on telepresence systems.

    * New verticals. Telepresence has been popular in financial services, retail and other industries with multiple branches and meeting points. Other uses are popping up in legal - you can use telepresence systems to take depositions. These systems could also work in the prison system when it's unsafe to transport an inmate.

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and Editorial Director of ZDNet sister site TechRepublic.

[via ZDNet]

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