Home Consumer Level Cisco Telepresence Coming Next Week

Consumer Level Cisco Telepresence Coming Next Week

Networking giant Cisco offers super-fancy “telepresence” video conferencing studios for rent in major cities around the world, but now the futuristic service will be made available to consumers for home use, according to reports.

Kara Swisher writes this morning that telepresence systems will be sold for between $200 and $500 and the announcement will be made next week. You can get a picture of what the enterprise product looks like, including the company’s progress on interoperability with other platforms, in the video from last week below.

Why does Cisco do telepresence? As we wrote this Summer:

As blogger and Institute for the Future researcher Chris Arkenberg put bluntly: “Anything that drives more bandwidth through those increasingly clogged arterial Intertubes makes Cisco very happy. Video is huge and hosting more and more of it will require companies to budget for bigger & better routers to handle the throughput.”

Would you plop down a few hundred bucks for a big home telepresence device? I’d probably rather wait for an iPad with a front facing camera, myself, but I certainly find this idea intriguing as well.

Real time, video, presence data, collaboration – all of those are important trends for the future. But does dedicated hardware and a single-purpose communication channel outside the public web make sense for consumers? That’s going to be a hard sell, beyond the “wow” factor. This is like Apple Facetime for the couch, but Facetime comes on a mobile device that can do a whole lot more as well.

Jay Cuthrell of ReadWriteHack may disagree:

I watched a 7 year old kid kick off a Telepresence when I lived in Atlanta 2 years ago. He touched a touch screen phone and up popped a 3 HD display in 1080p of folks in San Jose just like they were across the table from us. It’s wonderfully elegant technology.

If Cisco can manage to sell a boatload of these products, though, expect the “web is dead” debate about bandwidth use inside and outside the open public web to be even further skewed.

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