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What is Cisco's Spring Roll and Augmented Collaboration and Why is it Important?

July 14, 2014 | Howard Lichtman


This article is a sub-article to the 2014 Cover Story of Telepresence Options Magazine: Telepresence Intrapreneur - Cisco's Susie Wee leads from the Front. This sub article was written by Telepresence Options publisher Howard S. Lichtman explaining Spring Roll and the "big ideas" in visual collaboration that this innovation project is looking to address:

  • Stand Up Presentation and Data Visualization
  • Interactive Whiteboarding & Hand-Generated Graphics
  • Head-to-Toe Telepresence layered with Augmented Reality
  • Large-Format Data Visualization, Interaction, and "Bring & Fling"
  • Integration with the rest of Cisco's Video Portfolio
  • and "The iPad of the Conference Room"


WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA? There's a lot of big ideas going on simultaneously here:

Stand-Up Presentation and Data Visualization--A significant percentage of executives are "stand-up presenters," which means they prefer to speak, whiteboard, work with slides, and similarly command attention to reinforce their message. Anyone who has seen John Chambers present, or Susie Wee present, or me for that matter knows that it hard to keep a good man (or woman!) down! Stand up presenters "lead from the front" and a significant amount of presenters utilize data visualization to enhance the audience's comprehension and retention of their material using images, visualizations, video, hand- generated graphics, and annotations the way an artist paints with a variety of brushes.

Interactive Whiteboarding & Hand-Generated Graphics - In a virtual environment you want to replicate all the usual and customary tools in their usual and customary format. That means you don't want users to try to whiteboard with a mouse. The multi-site interactive whiteboard has been the biggest disappointment in collaboration. No one had really done it right although SMART's Lync Room system got a little closer. The ability to whiteboard interactively, save your work product to a file, and annotate over images and documents are definitely power features because, especially in knowledge-based work like internetworking or genomics, for example, there are concepts that are almost impossible to explain without the use of hand-generated graphics. Annotation is a powerful tool in a variety of settings.

Head-to-Toe Telepresence Layered with Augmented Reality-- Spring Roll is one of the best environments we've seen that provides a head-to-toe view into a remote location, an area that has also been the focus of the telepresence work at Microsoft Research, which calls their goal the "Magic Window." The view into the remote scene is one benefit, but expect Spring Roll's computing capability and sensor network to layer in helpful information, customized menus and toolsets, translation capabilities and more.


Large-Format Data Visualization, Interaction and "Bring & Fling"--You need a big canvas of pixels to let multiple participants share multiple data inputs at the same time. You also need a big canvas for data persistence. That is, you want to be able to "paste" the electrical equivalent of a flip chart to the wall so it stays fresh in the group's memory so it can be frequently referred back to. "Bring and Fling" is the name for allowing BYOD participants to share content on the big screen from their preferred device. Yep. Spring Roll has it.


Integration with the Rest of Cisco's Video Portfolio-- The platform was built on Cisco TelePresence so, if productized, expect to easily connect from "The Boardroom to the Browser" with Cisco multi-camera, multi- codec group telepresence systems, videoconferencing room systems, the desktop, mobile video for tablets and smartphones, robotic telepresence, and WebEx.

The iPad of the Conference Room--Most people haven't realized the value of having an interactive display in the conference room. The conference room display is one of the most important screens in most knowledge workers' lives, arguably just as important as their television, tablet, or smartphone, with one of the most lucrative demographics on earth: educated, frequently wealthy, knowledge workers buying trillions of dollars of plant, property, equipment, and services for their companies, organizations, and governments. Connect a touch-sensitive screen to a computing capability and now you have a platform for Apps: marketing, business-to-business commerce, data analytics, data visualization, entertainment, gaming, room control, and dozens of other app categories. Expect a knife fight over who controls the portal into and out of the conference room.

For now Spring Roll is a proof-of-concept warming up on the pad but it is going in so many right directions simultaneously that it's hard to imagine that lots of it isn't going to stick in a big way. Why? Because they put the experience first.

You can read the main article: Telepresence Intrapreneur - Cisco's Susie Wee Leads from the Front Here:

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About the Author
Howard_Lichtman_ArrayHoward S. Lichtman is the publisher of Telepresence Options, president of the visual collaboration consultancy Human Productivity Lab, and C20 and Board Director @ Array Telepresence. He co-founded a company in 2001 that built visual collaboration environments with stand-up presentation, IP video over QoS networks, interactive whiteboarding, and large format data visualization. At the time he was unable to even conceive of augmented reality, "bring & fling", iPads, or Apps.

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