I had the opportunity to experience a conference today using Cisco’s TelePresence to connect four locations (New York, New Jersey, Seattle, and Silicon Valley) and Cisco’s WebEx to connect scores more people on the internet. It was supposed to be five physical locations, but London got ten inches of snow overnight and so they did not join.
The conference ran for five hours and I must say that the high definition video ran flawlessly, and there were only minor glitches in getting people’s computers synched up with the projector. The system seamlessly switched amongst the four locations on our three flat panels, based on who was talking, and the sound was crystal clear.
Not bad for $300,000 (for the 3-screen Cisco TelePresence 3000). I’m sure it will get cheaper over time, but I can only imagine that there must be renewed interest with the reduced travel budgets at most companies today.
It is hard to fully explain the experience, but life-size imagery and high-definition with directional audio is a leap ahead of any video conferencing system I’ve experienced (including Microsoft Office Roundtable). The additional benefits of Microsoft Outlook integration, screen sharing and easy operation would make it a very intriguing purchase for any company with distributed teams.
What do you think?