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Latest Telepresence and Visual Collaboration News:
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TelePresence Tech unveils TPT Room in Texas with Howard Lichtman's Thoughts and Analysis

May 20, 2008 | John Serrao

Telepresence Options traveled to Plano, Texas earlier this month for TelePresence Tech's unveiling of their new TPT Room, featuring a seamless 70" conferencing display and 3, 40" collaboration screens.  Using multiple beamsplitters, participants in the TPT room see life-size conferencing attendees and shared documents in the same field of vision, allowing for a more fluid conferencing experience.  The new  room also features specially designed acoustical treatments, lighting and seating. 

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Above: A birds-eye view of the new 70" TPT Room.  Below: the 50" TPT Conference system.

2008_05_06_telepresencetech_2.jpgTo get a better idea of what the TPT Room means to Telepresence Tech, Howard Lichtman, Publisher of Telepresence Options, sat down with the CEO of TelePresence Tech, Duffie White, and the co-owner of Regal Research and Manufacturing, Mike Powell.  The three discussed the development process behind the new TPT Room, emphasizing the benefits of having the in-house manufacturing capabilities of Regal behind the venture.  After initially partnering, Regal has now officially taken an equity stake in Telepresence Tech, according to Powell.  White added that tighter integration of design and manufacturing services will allow Telepresence Tech to accommodate volume sales of their full range of products, including the new TPT room.




See the 3-D TelePresence Room in Action


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From left to right:  Mike Powell, co-owner Regal Research and Mfg, Co., Duffie White, CEO, TelePresence Tech, Howard Lichtman, Publisher, Telepresence Options


Watch the Complete Interview


2008_05_06_telepresencetech_3.jpgFollowing the interview session, we were given a tour of the manufacturing facilities used to create the TPT room and other Telepresence Tech products.  These state-of-the-art facilities included a bevy of technological advances themselves, including the Trumpf TruPunch 5000 Punch.  This machine fully automates the entire process of turning sheet metal into finished product and it can even run "lights out" through the night without any human supervision. We were also shown the paint room, an automated welder (Panasonic PerformArc Robotic Welder), and a host of other machines, all humming along on various projects.

Later in the day, Lichtman sat down with Chris Carr of MASERGY Communications, a leading provider of telepresence network services also based in Plano, Texas.  The two discussed a new service offering that Masergy will be announcing at InfoComm and how those new capabilities will impact the emerging telepresence industry. Check back in June for the announcement and interview.


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Chris Carr, MASERGY Communications (left) sits down with Howard Lichtman, Publisher, Telepresence Options (right)

We will continue our survey of telepresence, telepresence managed services, and inter-networking telepresence with a comprehensive report due later this year in the Telepresence Options 2008 Yearbook (receive a free copy upon publication).  We look forward to reviewing these companies' offerings with the rest of the industry at the upcoming Telepresence @ InfoComm Program put on by our friends at the IMCCA at the Infocomm 2008 conference in Las Vegas on June 19th. 

Howard Lichtman's Thoughts and Analysis

It is always a pleasure to escape the Silicon Plantation for a visit to my native Texas especially to check out new telepresence offerings.  The TPT Room uses a similar beam splitter approach used by Digital Video Enterprises but incorporates a second beamsplitter for displaying additional sites and/or collaborative data and/or 3-D visualizations. 

What I liked:

Eye-contact - Hiding the camera behind the beam splitter at eye-level provides for a more natural experience by keeping truer eye-lines and hiding the camera.

Open Platform & Easy Way to Improve Existing Videoconferencing Deployments- The TPT solution is an open platform for a variety of cameras and codecs and can improve the human factors of an existing SD or HD videoconferencing deployment by improving the end-user acceptance of the overall experience.  The solution seems well-suited to videoconferencing managers looking to improve the usage of their existing videoconferencing investment without a greenfield upgrade. 

Cost Effective - Almost 1/2 the cost of many of the leading telepresence group solutions with the ability to run on a single T1 and/or E1.


What I didn't:

Small Capacity in Life-size- While the room can seat up to 11 participants (5 in the front row and 6 on a second row) the size of the primary participants must be reduced when you are seating more than 2-3 on the front row.

Awkward Beam Splitter - Using beam splitters is the proverbial double-edged sword.  On one hand you hide the camera and get a truer sense of eye-contact with remote participants, on the other hand you have a piece of glass jutting into the room at 45 degrees.  It adds a degree of awkwardness that is equal to Cisco's Darth Vader camera array and/or most of the rest of the industry's flat screen displays that the human brain can't help but register and indicative of the trade-offs that all telepresence solutions face in trying to replicate a natural face-to-face encounter. 

Overall I was impressed with version one of the 3-D TelePresence Room and especially impressed with Mike Powell and the friendly, capable team at Regal Research. Partnering with a sophisticated contract manufacturer like Regal gives TelePresence Tech the capability to rapidly prototype new solutions and/or custom versions of their existing portfolio.  I saw a prototype of true eye-contact executive system for the desk of someone using a laptop that Duffie was able to move from idea to prototype in one week.  Try doing that when your manufacturing capability is in China!

Other:

Telepresence People

Steven R. King has joined Virtela as CEO, President, and a member of the Board of Directors (More Info)

Doug Johnson has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer at Telanetix

Kevin Kennedy, the president and CEO of JDS Uniphase, has joined the Board of Directors at Polycom (More Info)

Paul Quinn has joined Telanetix as Chief Financial Officer

Rick Snow has joined HaiVision as Vice President of Operations

Nicole Reynolds has joined Videré Conferencing as General Sales Manager for the Western US (More Info)


Glowpoint joins Telepresence Options!

The Lab is pleased to welcome telepresence and videoconferencing service provider Glowpoint as a sponsor of our multi-vendor survey of telepresence and effective visual collaboration, Telepresence Options 2008. To get a free hard copy of the Telepresence Options 2008 Yearbook and/or to subscribe to our newsletter, the Telepresence Options Telegraph, sign up here: http://www.telepresenceoptions.com/syndication/

Glowpoint provides managed services, managed IP network connectivity and white label VNOC solutions for telepresence, video conferencing, broadcast and call center applications. Glowpoint's comprehensive knowledge base of IP networking, video engineering, and application development and enables the delivery of consistent, reliable, and high quality video communications that meet the demands of today's global marketplace.  The company also runs one of the world's largest visual communication's networks allowing connectivity to joint venture partners, vendors, and customers that use telepresence and videoconferencing.
More information at: http://www.Glowpoint.com/TelepresenceSolutions.aspx









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