Cisco targets broader telepresence-customer base

A new batch of telepresence products could help the technology extend its reach beyond executive board rooms in enterprise companies

Cisco has announced a batch of telepresence products that could create new uses for the technology and extend its reach beyond executive board rooms in enterprise companies.

On Monday, the company introduced its Cisco TelePresence 1300 system, which uses one 65-inch plasma screen and three cameras to cover up to six people in one meeting room. The previous generation of the system involved three 55-inch plasma screens.

Because the system is based on one screen only, it becomes easier to put it in smaller conference rooms. It also allows the conference room to be used for both telepresence and non-telepresence meetings.

This flexibility should allow Cisco to sell the system to a wider range of customers, including small- to medium-sized businesses, as well as branch offices and multiple conference rooms at large enterprises.

As part of the launch, Cisco introduced Cisco TelePresence Extended Reach technology. This lets users run the telepresence system over slower bandwidth connections, such as the T1 lines used by small businesses, and still deliver 720p-resolution images.

The telepresence system can also be used as a recording studio, for the recording and re-broadcast of lectures, speeches and other presentations. Using Cisco's previously released Media Experience Engine, users can watch the recordings in standard definition over other devices, including PCs or mobile phones.

Cisco's telepresence capabilities are also being extended into other videoconferencing services, and they are now integrated with applications such as WebEx, the company said.

Telepresence advocates have long pointed to the money saved by reducing travel expenses. Cisco notes that the cost savings go a step further with the recording-studio service, because it eliminates the need for studio rentals or use of lower-definition web cameras.

"This next wave of collaborative applications substantially expands what Cisco TelePresence can enable, making it even more useful and flexible for everyone in every company," Charles Stucki, general manager of Cisco's telepresence systems business unit, said in a statement.