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Cisco testing consumer TelePresence, launch soon and potential online school heaven?

May 20, 2010 | Chris Payatagool
From: Thomas Reuters, the world's largest international news agency

(Reuters) - Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) is testing its TelePresence videoconferencing system and expects to begin selling a device to consumers late this year for around $500, a senior executive said on Thursday.

Robert Lloyd, Cisco's executive vice president overseeing worldwide operations, told the Reuters Global Technology Summit in San Francisco that he is currently testing a TelePresence device at home.

The device would incorporate a high-definition camera and network technology to make video conversations smoother, he said.

Cisco, the world's largest maker of routers and switches, has been expanding into video and consumer products. Following its recent acquisition of Norway's Tandberg, it has become the world's biggest videoconferencing equipment provider for business customers.

(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando and Noel Randewich, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

Cisco home TelePresence: online school heaven?
You can just hear the University of Phoenix licking its chops right now.

Cisco expects to have  its home TelePresence system -- a living room version of what you have seen in those quirky Ellen Page commercials (see below) -- by the holiday season at around $500 (plus some kind of monthly service fee), Cisco Executive Vice President Rob Lloyd said on Thursday at the Reuters Global Technology Summit. He and some other Cisco employees are about to start a round of internal testing.

The system will let two users have a conversation with video. Ok, yes, Skype does that every day over garden variety laptops. But TelePresence, as described by Lloyd, uses your high speed Internet link, and your own flat-screen TV, to deliver crisp video, and overcome that weird latency issue where you and your conversation partner both talk at the same time, and both stop to say " go."

The key benefit, he says, is that it works over your home TV and brings the myriad tools of the Internet to your conversation. So if you are talking about the family tree, you can bring up photo apps during the chat, or video or other useful information. And for school... its priceless.

    When you get the latency too high -- I say something, you say something, two seconds later you stop, and I stop and we both stop. We have all been there. You get the latency nailed down, and then you get applications integrated into that -- because just talking to someone is interesting, but you probably want to have that integration into a marketplace when you can get service that can take advantage of that. So you want some small business services, some educational capabilities, you want to take some MBA classes from home, connected to a university that is offering some extension services -- not on a website, but on a consumer TelePresence - it is going to happen.

    So you will get education just transforming itself. A whole bunch of universities are going to love us. 

So, would you buy this Web-videochat-on-steroids system?

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