Cisco Systems is continuing its push into the home, with a video communications strategy using a consumer high-definition television and a broadband connection.
Cisco officials are talking about their plans at the Consumer Electronics Show, which runs Jan. 7 to 10 in Las Vegas.
In conjunction with partner Verizon, Cisco will begin home telepresence trials in the United States in the spring. Later in 2010, the company will partner with France Telecom in trials in France.
Cisco officials have said they see a strong opportunity to bring video communications into the home. According to IDC, there will be 32 million homes in the United States in 2010 with the needed broadband connection to support a high-quality telepresence environment.
"Home telepresence will make a difference in the consumers' lives by allowing them to enjoy natural video communications with family and friends wherever they are located," Marthin De Beer, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Emerging Technologies group, said in a statement Jan. 6.
Not only will they be able to connect with other home telepresence users, but they will be able to call PCs using a Webcam and video chat service, De Beer said.
In a research note Jan. 6, Brian White, an analyst with Ticonderoga Securities, said he expects that in 2010 Cisco will launch a version of its TelePresence product that consumers can buy through a service provider that involves a set-top box and a camera that ties into the television.
Cisco isn't the only company interested in expanding into the home video communications space, a market where Skype is already active. At CES, Skype officials announced a partnership with LG and Panasonic to make Skype-enabled HDTVs, which will help Skype expand its video communication services beyond the PC. Those HDTVs will be available in the middle of the year.
Also at CES, Polycom and IBM are demonstrating a home video conferencing prototype as part of IBM's smart home presentation.
Polycom co-founder and CTO Jeff Rodman said there is a growing overlap between home and work spaces, and it's at that intersection that something like a home video communications technology can take hold.
Employees who use video conferencing or immersive telepresence technologies at work see the benefits of such products at home, Rodman said.