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The Look and Feel of Telepresence, Part 2

Dec 27, 2007 12:00 PM, By Jessaca Gutierrez

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Interaction or designing for the lack of interaction has definitely been a theme in AV integration as of late, with custom touch panels to control everything but the height of the chairs, human interaction, not human/technology interaction is becoming center. Unlike the retail space, which uses technology to wow and amaze its customers, technology like that may not have any business in the workspace. Gorzynski says the technology should be about getting work done.

Part of designing a system that allowed users to get work done played a large part in the unique network design of the system. Instead of operating on a LAN, Halo operates on a parallel network called the Halo Video Exchange Network (HVEN). HVEN creates a custom network link that can go into the local environment. “Think about it as a ring or ladder around the whole globe from Asia to Europe to the Americas and to that backbone any room we are creating can connect to it,” Gorzynski says. “So now we’ve solved the problem of a consistent bandwidth service. We can run 45Mbps per room to there, so we’re not struggling anymore to create one or two, we create 45Mbps. We get 45Mbps per room via our service. In addition to the 45Mbps of service you solve some of the other key problems the integrator has such as maintaining the equipment, having access to upgrades, and a variety of things that need to be maintained over time, so you end up solving some of the first few key satisfiers by having a consistent room that doesn’t break down, to get where it needs to on the globe.”

Although telepresence is primarily suited for the boardroom because of its bandwidth needs and the cost associated with the system, Erica Schroeder, director of market management at Cisco Systems, says telepresence isn’t strictly for the boardroom.

“We have one customer that has a pharmaceutical division,” Schroeder says. “They are very interested in anything that can help them get a new product out to the market faster because any day that a drug is on the market earlier, you can actually count that as hard dollars in terms of incremental revenue, and so one of the things they are looking to Telepresence to help them with is to speed time to market for new product offerings.”

In a similar case, Schroeder identifies a Eurorpean retail client, citing how when the company was expanding its reach to Eastern Europe, opening up new stores was done more quickly. “In their case, they’re dealing with relatively scarce resources, so experts in headquarters in operations and logistics; they’ve got architects; they got local experts who are working with local government on permits and so on and they need to be able to get these folks together quickly and off and on on an ad hoc basis,” she says. “And if they can get them together more quickly, they can get faster decisions made and they can actually open stores faster, and they know everyday that a new store is opened earlier that means x more dollars per day, and that really can have a substantial impact on their top line.”

Essentially, the biggest selling point for clients to implement a costly telepresence system will be how it helps the bottom line, which it seems at the early adopter stage of this technology, integrators will need to tell clients how exactly the technology can grow their bottom line. As the costs come down and bandwidth increases for many establishments, it wouldn’t be too far fetched to see this technology in hospitals and schools where these sectors have already seen a positive impact and use for long-distance communications.

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