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Cisco Demos New Collaboration Functions for TelePresence

April 25, 2014 | Telepresence Options

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Story and images by Chris Preimesberger / eWEEK

NEWS EXCLUSIVE: Cisco Tech Fund hatches Project Spring Roll, which adds "augmented collaboration" tools to the high-end video conferencing service.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Back in 2006, when Cisco Systems launched TelePresence -- its deluxe way to save travel and hotel costs for meetings -- the company said it would fundamentally change the videoconferencing market. And it did to a great extent, thanks to the way it brought high-definition live video with indiscernible latencies to large screens to enable life-size images. Nobody previously had been able to do it that well.

A TelePresence session is indeed impressive. Many a time, people in these long-distance meetings forget that they're continents apart, asking their colleagues through the screen if they can bring them water or coffee. This can be a valuable asset for most large corporations, since it offers real-time, virtual face-to-face meetings for key situations in which facial reactions and body language are very important for business outcomes.

But, let's face it, a high-end teleconference service like this once, which can cost $10,000 to $12,000 per month (less for smaller installations) to rent the equipment and use the service, is hardly for the masses. When low- or no-cost videoconferencing in the form of Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and a list of others came into regular use for individuals and small groups about four years ago, TelePresence to many people looked like video-meeting overkill, and sales began to slip.

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