Systems Pay for Themselves
Systems will pay for themselves quickly Chambers said that TelePresence will be marketed on a subscription basis and will cost between $10,000 and $12,000 per month for the service.A single-screen TelePresence 1000 (for two virtual people) costs $79,000 for the equipment and setup. A three-screen TelePresence 3000 (for six virtual people) costs $299,000. The operating costs are covered by the monthly fees. The screen resolution is remarkable: 1080p (the number 1080 represents 1,080 lines of vertical resolution, while the letter p stands for progressive scan or non-interlaced; 1080p is considered an HDTV video mode), which is twice that of current high-definition video and six times that of standard video quality. Amazingly, the required bandwidth isn't out of the ordinary; TelePresence uses only about 12 to 15MB per second for its super-high quality streaming video. The system also is set up to show documents on a central screen, so that all participants can view them at the same time. A user simply holds the document over a "hot spot" on the table to show it to all participants. At the moment, TelePresence is able to link two locations anywhere in the world. By this time next year, customers will be able to mix and match several locations at a time within their own setups, Chambers said. TelePresence is certainly not cheap. But many Fortune 1000 companies routinely spend in six figures per month in terms of travel and hotel costs, so the investment here isn't particularly daunting. "Were going full-steam ahead on this," Chambers said. "I'm fully expecting that we will have 132 new sites set up in the next 15 months." Travel agents won't be too pleased. And when the airlines and hospitality industries get wind of this, they also will be wishing for the good old days. Think about it. Companies will be sending their best experts and representatives to their TelePresence rooms for high-level meetings, rather than to the Ritz-Carlton or local Sheraton. Cabbies, restaurants, and golf courses will be hit hard. All the things that this new technology brings literally to the table will also affect other industries in an adverse way. Disrupting other industries But that's the way with most new technologies. Successful disrupted industries will adjust. "Wow, I can see some really interesting inter-continental poker games using this setup," one person said. "This would put a whole new spin on the speed-dating thing," said another participant. The Cisco people nodded knowingly. You could read it in their faces-the live ones in the room and the virtual ones in New York. "These reporters are really getting it," they were thinking. "What about health care?" Chambers said. "You can't always get the world's best experts to see you in person when you're sick, but using this, you can visit with them virtually and therefore get access to the highest level of health care possible." Then the wheels really started turning in the room. Government could use this for meetings of all kinds-especially last-minute diplomatic gatherings in which time is of the essence. Long-distance education could benefit. The military, scattered around the world, would certainly find uses. Perhaps even families spread across the globe may find it worth the cost. Everybody can use up-close-and-personal communication tools like this one. Oh, yes, there's another point of information. You can see an actual demonstration of TelePresence in the privacy of your own home on your local Fox Network television channel. It will be featured in a new crime show called "Vanished," which will air Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time. Viewer discretion is advised, the network said. In the show, detectives stage a teleconference using TelePresence so they can discuss catching a murderer. "Our logo is right there, plain as day," Chambers said with a smile. "They even mention Cisco in the script." Talk about product placement. Anything else? TelePresence doesn't enable actual handshaking or hugging across the table. But Cisco's probably already working on it. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.
"This thing will pay for itself in terms of lowered travel costs in no time, especially for large companies," Chambers said.