November 17, 2007

Telepresence and Enterprise Architecture

Telepresence is replacing video-teleconferencing, big time.

“Telepresence refers to a set of technologies which allow a person to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance that they were present, or to have an effect, at a location other than their true location.

Telepresence requires that the senses of the user, or users, are provided with such stimuli as to give the feeling of being in that other location. Additionally, the user(s) may be given the ability to affect the remote location. In this case, the user's position, movements, actions, voice, etc. may be sensed, transmitted and duplicated in the remote location to bring about this effect. Therefore information may be travelling in both directions between the user and the remote location.” (Wikipedia)

Fortune Magazine, 12 November 2007 reports that CISCO’s TelePresence product is modeled after Star Trek’s vision of being able to beam people from one place to another (HP has a competing product called Halo).

With TelePresence, “high-def, life-sized, internet-based communications systems,” it’s just like being there. TelePresence is the convergence of video, voice, and data—called, Unified Communications—over the internet, enabling seamless virtual mobility of people from one place to another.

TelePresence works as follows:

  • Displays—“participants appear life size on 65-inch 1080p plasma displays. When additional sites connect, the screens shifts to show the group that is speaking”
  • Cameras—“each two person portion of the room is covered by its own designated high-speed camera.”
  • Audio—“microphones and speakers are set so that sound seems to come from whichever participants in a room are talking.”
  • Data—“projectors mounted beneath the tables can display information from a computer or any other compatible device.”

CISCO believes that “the internet will become the delivery medium of all communications—and eventually everything from security systems and entertainment to health care and education.”

Already 50 large companies have bought the pricey TelePresence system (“List price $299,000 for three 65-inch plasma screens in a special conference room and $71,000 for a single-screen set-up) since launch last winter. P&G is rolling out 40 TelePresence room worldwide over the next nine months and CISCO has rolled out 120 across the company (“paid for by ordering every department to cut its travel budget 20%).

Telepresence allows for reduced travel times and expenditures and increased worker productivity. User-centric EA should consider these benefits to the organization in incorporating it into its target architecture.


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