Cisco is planning to pilot a home telepresence system in field trials with Verizon. The move, announced at CES 2010, comes two days after Skype said it would embed HD video conferencing into televisions from Panasonic and LG.
Add it up and it appears inevitable that video conferencing is coming to a living room near you. The big question is whether Cisco or Skype will be bringing video communications to you. Update: I was just informed that Polycom also has a home telepresence prototype and will hold a demo with IBM on Thursday. The big point: The home video conferencing field will get crowded quickly.
CES 2010: Geeks in Toyland
Cisco's move into the living room isn't new. It already has the set-top boxes (Scientific Atlanta), routers (Linksys) and the video gadgets (Flip) covered.
On Wednesday Cisco said it would partner with Verizon to launch "home telepresence field trials" in the spring. With any luck, I'll be a telepresence guinea pig since I'm a Verizon FiOS household. Cisco promises to use "a consumer's existing HDTV and broadband connection to deliver a unique natural video communication experience from the comfort of a living room."
Funny that's what Skype has planned too. The Skype plan revolves around embedding service into Internet connected TVs. Skype's plan is similar to the Netflix distribution model---embed yourself everywhere. Cisco appears to be going the carrier and cable partner route.