Cisco launches new telepresence system, Project Squared mobile app

Cisco is busy retooling its collaboration portfolio with a telepresence system that uses less bandwidth and power and Project Squared, a mobile app that offers video conferencing, document sharing and other tools.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Cisco on Monday launched a new three-screen telepresence system designed to cut costs on bandwidth and deployment as well as a mobile collaboration effort dubbed Project Squared.

The moves, announced at its Collaboration Summit 2014, come as Cisco is resetting its collaboration portfolio with the aim of connecting screens of all sizes and power them on its cloud.

On the telepresence front, Cisco launched the IX5000 series of systems. The system is designed for 6 to 18 people and has three screens for an immersive experience. More importantly, the IX5000 doesn't require special lighting, paint colors and additional cabling. Cisco's launch comes as telepresence system sales have fallen because there are cheaper alternatives with lower total cost of ownership.

The system has three 4K cameras, theater quality audio with 18 speakers, a microphone array as well as motion sensors that adjust when a person stands or moves. The IX5000 uses less bandwidth via H.265 compression and will start at less than $9,000 a month for 36 months. Cisco's argument is that the IX5000 has a lower total cost of ownership because rooms don't have to be retooled and there's less bandwidth and power.

Cisco Collaboration CTO Jonathan Rosenberg said the IX5000 is more cost effective and could jump start the telepresence market.

Project Squared

Project Squared is a business collaboration app that ties together multiple Cisco tools for chat, audio, video, multi-person meeting and content sharing. The app is mobile first, but designed to scale to the desktop and integrated with Box collaboration tools.


Rosenberg said Project Squared is part of a broader move to retool Cisco's collaboration portfolio with a refreshed WebEx and new initiatives. "All of this stuff has to allow you to move back and forth so you can go from mobile to back to the desktop in a seamless transition," said Rosenberg. "Project Squared was built from the ground up on the principle that it can take all the things you do day to day and put them in one place."

One catch with Project Squared is that on the browser it only works on Firefox because Cisco chose to go with a plug-in free approach.

The effort is build on Cisco's collaboration cloud, a platform that delivers web conferencing, telepresence, voice and unified communications. The primary feature is the ability to have team meetings and manage them on the go.

Cisco is putting Project Squared on iOS and Android to solicit feedback and develop it. The app is free and Rosenberg said that Cisco is working through potential licensing approaches.

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