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Telepresence: What Impact Will it Really Have?

Telepresence: What Impact Will it Really Have?



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Published by Carol Skyring
An article I wrote for Strategic Path in late 2007. It discusses how recent advances in telepresence technologies are helping companies create a sense of shared presence among distributed teams, and points to likely next steps, including tele-immersion that will radically alter our concept of time and geography in the workplace.
An article I wrote for Strategic Path in late 2007. It discusses how recent advances in telepresence technologies are helping companies create a sense of shared presence among distributed teams, and points to likely next steps, including tele-immersion that will radically alter our concept of time and geography in the workplace.

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Published by: Carol Skyring on Jul 07, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Caro daunt from learnTe iscusses how recent avances inteepresence technoogies are heping companies create asense of share presence among istribute teams, an pointsto ike next steps, incuing teeimmersion that wi raicaater our concept of time an geograph in the workpace.
to give a convincing telepresence experience.I’m not so sure. I believe that you can achievesome sense o telepresence on the telephonei you are speaking to someone with whomyou have an emotional connection.A second question is how much ‘control’is necessary or telepresence to occur? Isthe ability to manipulate a remote objector environment an important aspect o realtelepresence systems?Certainly the telepresence experience isenhanced by high defnition video and audioand a degree o control over the environment.This appears to be the premise on whichcurrent telepresence systems are based.
what’S CuRRently on oFFeR?
In 2006, we saw our major releases otelepresence solutions. HP was frst to market
elepresence has moved out o thelaboratories and onto a screen near you.The frst conerence on telepresence washeld in 2006 and the organisers claimed thatover the next decade virtually every Global5000 company would adopt telepresence.A variety o Fortune 1000 organisations arealready using it, reporting both satisactionand a strong return on their investment.The industry hasn’t come to a sharedunderstanding o what telepresence is ora defnition that everyone agrees on. Ingeneral, telepresence reers to a set otechnologies that allow a person to eel asi they are present at a location other thantheir true location.How much technology is needed to createsuch an environment? Some would arguethat sophisticated technologies are required
with its Halo Collaboration Studio that isdescribed as enabling “people in dierentlocations to communicate in a vivid, ace-to-ace environment in real time. Users areable to see and hear one another’s physicaland emotional reactions to conversation andinormation as it is being shared.”Polycom was next to market with highdefnition telepresence solutions “thatenable people working at a distance tocommunicate as i they were all in the sameroom. Solutions that deliver the fnest detailand nuance o expression in voice, video andcontent – all over lower bandwidths.”Cisco ollowed in October 2006 withits TelePresence Meeting solution thatcombines lie-size, ultra high defnition videoimages, spatial audio, a specially designedenvironment, and interactive elements tocreate the eeling o being ‘in person’ withparticipants in remote locations.”Tandberg came to market with Experia,the adaptive telepresence solution that“creates the optimal across-the-table visualcommunication experience”.All o these are excellent advances invideoconerence technology. They especiallyaddress the problem o eye contact, whichwe have long known plays a large role inconversation and group communication. Theyhave high defnition video and audio andcertainly create a sense o being in the sameroom. However, they do it at great cost.
 appliCationS FoR telepReSenCe
At the moment, telepresence appears to beabout videoconerencing – and this may limitour thinking about applications.The major, and most common, use otelepresence is to establish a sense oshared presence among geographicallyseparated members o a group. With theincrease in distributed workplaces andteams, this will become an important useo the technology. It can overcome theisolation o the teleworker and strengthenconnections between teams that may bedispersed around the globe. One o themost interesting applications I’ve seen isthe virtual assistant. She works rom homebut has a continual virtual presence at her
Current evolution is toward establishinga sense of shared presence
Recent technology advances create a true – albeit costly– sense of presence
Next step will be ‘teleimmersion’ merging telepresenceand virtual worlds
desk hundreds o kilometres away. Througha single screen telepresence system she‘appears’ at her desk in the ofce and peopletalk to her as i she were there.I we expand our thinking o telepresencebeyond videoconerencing, then a rat oapplications become possible. These include:
where humans are exposed to hazardoussituations eg, bomb disposal, rescue ovictims rom fre, toxic atmospheres;
environments that are difcult to work ineg, mining and undersea work;
remote telehealth, especially hapticteleoperation where the user eels someapproximation o the weight, frmness, size,and/or texture o the remote objects beingmanipulated;
virtual excursions – school children arealready going onto the ree with a diverand into space to save astronauts;
virtual travel – experience the delightso anywhere in the world rom your ownhome;
teletourism – the reverse o the abovewhere you go on holidays but use tele-presence to connect you to the ofce.
 a glimpSe at ViRtual woRldS
Where does telepresence end and virtualworlds begin? Telepresence actually hadits beginnings in the virtual world ogaming. With the development o onlineenvironments such as Second Lie, we’rebeginning to see the two come together.Already there have been videoconerencesbetween real people in the real world tovirtual people (avatars) in the Second Lievirtual world. Residents o Second Lie arecertainly experiencing everything rom virtualtravel to dating (and more!) in the virtualworld. There is a high level o telepresence inmany o these activities.Sun’s Virtual Workplace is another exampleo the merging o real and virtual worlds.On any given day, over 50 per cent o Sun’sworkorce is remote. Sun has built a virtual3D environment in which employees (on-and o-site) can work, share documents,and meet with colleagues using natural voicecommunication. Inhabitants o the virtualofce building can work together in plannedmeetings, or can talk inormally in unplannedencounters. The spatial layout o this 3Dworld, coupled with the immersive audio,provides strong cognitive cues that enhancecollaboration.

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