Telepresencing, the high end of the telecom-transport tradeoff

Posted on May 12, 2009  /  0 Comments

I telepresenced using the Tata marketed CISCO system in New Delhi few months ago and was converted. Three locations and after a few minutes, you just assume that you’re talking to people in the room. The clarity of the pictures and audio was astounding. Now with the costs and hassle of air travel increasing, this is clearly the way to do business.

But you need a minimum 5 MBps link for a two-way; we used 15MBps for the three-location conference. The connection dropped once, but otherwise performance was great. The question is whether we can assemble 15 MBps reliable quality in LK. I would hazard a guess that the first real working telepresence system (beyond those now operational at the World Bank, the Distance Learning Center, etc. with lower quality and bandwidth demands) will come up at a place like the Taj Samudra, where it is not too difficult to ensure a high-quality 15 MBps link.

The New York Times has a story:

In fact, people in the growing high-technology end of the industry, which is called “telepresencing,” say the Skype-type systems have helped videoconferencing gain traction. The technique has given life to “the general idea that video is a realistic possibility to communicate for business,” said Marc Trachtenberg, the chief executive and co-founder of Teliris, which is a major player in telepresencing, along with competitors like Cisco Systems.

With the highest-end Teliris product (Cisco has a similar product), you see a space that looks like a half of a conference room and you face a wall of up to six high-definition screens that give the illusion that people in a similar room in another location are in the same place.

After a while, it isn’t easy to tell where the real room ends and the virtual room begins. The system costs $150,000 to $200,000 a unit. A much less expensive option is a high-definition desktop system that costs under $10,000. All are mutually compatible.

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