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Real Immersive -- Real Inexpensive -- Array Telepresence

December 14, 2011 | Hogan Keyser
A rendering of the upcoming Array Telepresence SurroundPresence SP8.  The SP8 is an eight seat telepresence environment which optimizes Array's Equal-i image preprocessing that brings the farthest participants from the camera "up close and personal".  Instead of appearing a fraction of lifesize 14-18+ feet away, remote participants are brought forward and their size equalized so everyone appears life-size and much closer to the local participants. After all, when is the last time you had a business meeting and chose to sit 18 feet away from the most important participants?

Array Telepresence was covered in Elliot Gold's subscription-only Electronic TeleSpan this week.  Visual collaboration veteran and industry pundit JD Vaughn looks at the potential of Array's Equal-i approach of bringing distant participants in long conference rooms "up close and personal" and the Array's SurroundPresence highly immersive telepresence environment which optimizes the Equal-I technology.  This approach solves the dilemma of long conference tables where the farthest participants are sitting 7-9+ feet from the camera while communicating with another room where the farthest participants are sitting an additional 7-9+ feet from the screen.

Real Immersive -- Real Inexpensive -- Array Telepresence

December 12, 2011 By JD Vaughn (; [email protected])

Another uncommon company and uncommon opportunity for resellers, integrators, and managed service providers.

I thought the telepresence run was over. Once every manufacturer in the business claimed to deliver a telepresence immersive experience, it sort of lost its luster for me. I mean for gosh sakes, desktop telepresence? Really...? I don't think so. But manufacturers and resellers alike have tried to ride the telepresence wave. They call everything telepresence; even if it does not deliver a truly immersive experience.

Highly Immersive telepresence experiences like those delivered by Polycom's RPX, and DVE's Immersion Room have historically cost $300,000 or more. In fact the DVE Immersion Room retails at around $800,000. And while many manufacturers will tout their "telepresence" capabilities, even Cisco and LifeSize lose out when we begin comparing the factors that truly lead to immersion including: standup capture, hidden cameras and bezels, engineered environments and lighting and acoustics and the ability to do immersive multipoint where multiple remote locations with identical environments are married into a global roundtable. Howard Lichtman at Human Productivity Lab calls the highest level of immersion Highly Immersive telepresence and includes only Polycom's RPX and DVE's Immersive Room in this category; an opinion that has been echoed by David Danto of the IMCCA among others.

The dividing line between what Lichtman calls Highly Immersive telepresence and what he calls an Observant Experience--almost true telepresence--is the omission of one or two of the truly immersive elements listed above. And while Polycom's OTX, Cisco's 3000 series and Teliris' VirtuaLive deliver stunning experiences, they miss some of the critical components that help users forget that they are in a video meeting. And the price points on these products that do not meet the Highly Immersive criteria are still $250,000 to $300,000.

Enter Array TelePresence. The new company is touting a new suite of offerings that deliver a Highly Immersive telepresence experience for about one third the current prices. For about $100,000 retail, with lots of margin for resellers, end users will soon be able to purchase an eight-seat Surround Presence environment that reportedly meets all the criteria necessary to deliver a Highly Immersive telepresence experience.

Herold Williams, President of Array Telepresence, has been at the forefront of immersive telepresence since its beginning. Herold co-founded and was President of TeleSuite Corp., the first commercially successful immersive telepresence company. There, among other products, he developed what would become the Polycom RPX when Polycom acquired Destiny Conferencing, the successor company of TeleSuite, in 2007 for over $50MM.

In a typical videoconference with a long table the farthest participants from the camera can appear 7-9+ feet away at a fraction of lifesize.  If you are the farthest participant away on the local side sitting 7-9+ feet away from the screen then you  appear 14-18+ feet away from the farthest participants who are often the most important or senior participants sitting at the head of the table. 

Using a specially designed, patent-pending DSP-driven camera with a warp lens sensor system, Array Telepresence has designed a solution, Equal-i, that brings the farthest participants in a conference to the forefront. Participants that in a normal conferencing environment would appear 7-9 feet away and 3/4 of their true size are brought front and center where they are life-size, up close, and personal. To optimize this effect, Herold has designed a number of highly immersive Surround Presence environments that seat six, eight, or twelve participants in a fraction of the space required for other highly immersive solutions.

Array Telepresence is still in "stealth" mode, so please do not tell anyone how it has changed the game. Especially avoid telling end-users thinking of paying $350,000 for a system this week or next. And by all means do not tell resellers and manufacturers that are forecasting their telepresence sales in 2012. I would hate for them to have to rework their spreadsheets.

Who do we tell? Everybody else.

What do I think? If this delivers like reported, it is a true game changer for applications that require a Highly Immersive experience. But from a business and industry perspective, I still have a managed-services and service-provider bias, so new hardware and software does not generally get me all that excited. However, I am excited about a Highly Immersive experience that helps end users forget that they are using video conferencing at one third of the current costs. And, even more importantly, I am excited about uncommon new products that deliver uncommon and healthy margins for resellers and integrators.

About the Author

JD_Vaughn2.jpgJ D Vaughn is an author, writer, industry analyst and Principal and Founder of J D Vaughn Consulting. Most of his "hands on" work in the technology industry is to help firms accelerate growth through acquisition and focused organic business development. His clients also ask him to rapidly build revenues through distribution and unique business partnerships. He has been called upon to organize and or reorganize companies and departments to higher levels of productivity while also planning and executing plans for stakeholders' equity growth and timely and profitable exit strategies.

Educated at California Polytechnic State University and the Pepperdine Graduate School of Business, Mr. Vaughn captured significant experience working as a business consultant with Eli Lilly, General Mills, Ralston Purina, Kraft Foods, Safeway and Construction Materials Suppliers. In the 1990s he began working with "high risk-high return" startup companies and participated in two very profitable IPOs.

Reprinted from the December 12, 2011 issue of Electronic TeleSpan, with permission.

TeleSpan is published as an electronic bulletin 40 times a year for $377 prepaid. TeleSpan will license the right to make copies upon request. For subscriptions, contact TeleSpan at 626-797-5482, or visit our website:

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