A sci-fi style videoconferencing workstation dreamed up by engineers at BT's research labs has been brought to life by a Scottish development house.
Incorporated Technologies Ltd (ITL) has licensed BT's Smartspace multimedia workstation and has already shipped its first prototype model. But while the device may resemble the ultimate games console, at £42,500 it's likely to be strictly a business tool.
Smartspace includes a swivel chair, incorporating an LCD touch screen control panel and a wraparound wide screen with two high quality projectors. A digital sound system and built-in video camera is also included.
Possible uses of the system include videoconferencing and telemedicine, where consultants can view the patient on one side of the screen and their details on the other.
The wrap around screen can be used to present different displays as the chair pivots around 180 degrees. This feature could be used to create compact virtual control rooms in workplaces such as power stations or security installations, said Gordon Venters, managing director of ITL.
"This saves real estate by not taking a huge amount of control panels," he said.
BT, which last year described the system on its Web site as "very much looking into the future," said today that technology has advanced so rapidly that the system will be ready for market much sooner than planned.
"Having worked as a concept, but not something that we could take into the real world, rather quicker than we had expected it has become commercially doable," said a BT spokesman.
ITL has made its first model for BT and expects to complete two further models by November. The system includes a 550MHz chip running Windows 98, but will include four Pentium III processors and Windows 2000 when Microsoft's new operating system is available.
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