Anybody who's had a chance to do a bit of 'telepresencing' or 'teleconferencing' using some of the more expensive systems, like HP Halo for instance, might have noticed that the audio part of the technology, for some reason seems not to be as crystal clear as maybe they were expecting. OK, perhaps an alternative explanation could be found in all those Iron Maiden concerts they've been attending since the 80s. Having said that, remember that people going into these telepresence rooms usually have nothing to do with a make-up artist beforehand, so it seems to me the visual half of teleconferencing, also leaves something to be desired. In fact participants end up looking like an extra from one of those classic Hammer vampire films, drained of their vital juices - and I'm talking blood here.
I've sat through two telepresence calls so far, one on the aforementioned HP Halo system, the other in one of Cisco's TelePresence suites. The Cisco Telepresence system I used was located in London's financial district and when I was there for an earlier briefing a couple of months ago it wasn't working, and so became, as Cisco's solutions marketing VP Rick Moran put it, a £140,000 telephone.
There are three screens with two seats per screen, so six people can natter to each other over a dedicated link. This time with Moran presenting an update on their unified comms systems from Florida, it was up and running, although we were barred from taking drinks into the room. Maybe they thought we'd start getting rowdy and throw bottles of lager at Moran if they didn't give us any pricing for the new systems. Moran said the bandwidth needed for the video stream was around 2Mbit/s per screen and that anybody who decided to get up and start doing a really vigorous Riverdance impersonation, would trigger a doubling of the normal bandwidth required. This immediately set me wondering whether the bandwidth requirements would halve if we all started nodding off through the PowerPoint presentation. If you've got a spare quarter of a mill and a bill bigger than that for exec travel, maybe your firm should deploy the system, then all those executive trips to Hawaii could be given the bullet on the back of an exaggerated concern for Gaia and deep vein thrombosis.
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