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The Beam is the Latest Step Forward for a Truly Interactive Virtual Conference; However, There's Room too for Wavecomms, Argues Victor Tardieu of Full Circle Motivation
A new "Remote Presence Device" featured at the recent "SXSW Trade Show" in Texas generated huge interest and could well become a much-sought-after virtual conference supplement for the conference and exhibition industry.
At first glance, Suitable Technology's "The Beam" doesn't appear especially impressive: a flat TV monitor on a stand with wheels. But when it's fired up, it is apparently very impressive.
The conventional wisdom of our times holds that the Internet has inaugurated an era of virtual collaboration, enabling people to work together around the world and around the clock. But anyone who has tried staging a virtual conference or exhibition featuring a keynote presenter from far, far away will know that it doesn't always work like that. A virtual conference is often tedious and not as "interactive" as it would seem; the bonds of trust that are facilitated by real face-to-face exchanges are often weaker in virtual exchanges, informal communication is limited or lost, and, frankly, remote team members can all too easily be forgotten.
In theory, The Beam puts an end to all that. When powered up, the eye-level TV monitor appears to contain the head of another person, and the feeling of live interaction is astonishing. Not only that, but the person "in" the monitor can see the people he's addressing and the room he's in. At the SXSW show, the presenter in the monitor was actually 1700 miles away from the people she was talking to - but no one would have thought it.
Tardieu argues that this new development comes with a hefty price tag and for SMEs, it's way out of their budget. He proffers their Wavecomms web-based video conferencing system and makes this comparison.
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