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Teletouch Creates a Futuristic Combination of Telepresence and Collaboration

April 30, 2012 | David S. Maldow, Esq.
teletouch_whiteboard.jpgThe telepresence industry is ready for another sea change. This time, it is all about collaboration and small working teams. The original wave of videoconferencing technology was focused on systems for the meeting room, and in particular the board room. Large groups connecting to other large groups. This was due to a number of factors including the cost of early systems and the enormous value of increasing communications options among key decision makers. The second wave of videoconferencing technology was a repeat of the first, we simply replaced the tricky early systems with high end telepresence systems. The improved experience, reliability and ease of use of these flagship systems helped to enable a resurgence of interest in videoconferencing strong enough to carry the industry through the recent economic crash.

In recent years, there have been a number of trends and disruptors, which makes it hard to point to any one thing as "the next big thing" in videoconferencing. There are some obvious themes such as mobility, desktop, interop, services, virtualization, etc., but one of the most interesting areas of recent development is collaboration. Collaboration tools are no longer an add-on or an afterthought, they are often an integrated part of the base solution.

teletouch_whiteboard_2.jpgTeletouch takes this integration to a new level. The video screen and the collaboration screen are one and the same. A standard small team collaboration setup would generally place a VC system next to a standalone electronic whiteboard. The Teletouch solution, aside from saving wall space, provides a completely new collaboration and telepresence dynamic. It looks as if the meeting participants are actually standing on either side of a single pane of glass, and using that surface for collaboration.

Teletouch Demo at 3GSM 2012.

In an ideal telepresence experience, the meeting participant will feel as if he is in the same room as his remote peers, rather than feeling as if he is talking to a video screen. When looking at the display, it should appear as if the remote participant is actually present on the other side of a glass window. The Teletouch seems to be striving for that dynamic. It is hard to tell how effective the illusion is based on the videos I have seen, but the solution appears to have the camera placed behind the screen, which should provide exceptional eye contact.  

Videoconferencing technology has clearly developed to the point where it is ready to be democratized and spread throughout the industry, beyond the boardroom. But on the way from the boardroom to the iPad, let us not forget our small working teams; the developers, the sales force, the product groups, the HR people, etc. These small teams have a lot of work to do and need to collaborate to get it done quickly and correctly. Each person needs to be able to share her work with the group easily and effectively, in a natural working dynamic. These teams aren't looking for a communications solution with a mere collaboration add-on. Teletouch appears to be heeding this call by bringing the collab to an equal level with the comms. It will be very interesting to see how this concept continues to develop.

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