Tips and Training >> Definitions >> Telepresence

What is Telepresence?

A typical video conference system includes a codec, monitor and sound system. In conference rooms for many people, additional monitors, microphones and speakers are often added to create a more full sense of the moving video and audio between video conference locations. Telepresence changes all of this.

Telepresence systems are highly integrated multi-codec, multi-monitor, multi-microphone and multi-channel speaker systems. The objective of a Telepresence system is to present interactive video and audio between locations with near life like audio quality and with near life size video images.

The Telepresence Effect

The Telepresence Effect is distraction free interactive video communication and collaboration. Meeting participants in a Telepresence meeting appear life size and their voices sound as they would if all meeting participants were in the same meeting room. Additionally, smooth, easy and reliable presentation of computer content between meeting participants is generally considered a significant feature in the overall Telepresence Effect.

In order to create this "Telepresence" effect, video conferencing companies such as Polycom, Tandberg/Cisco and LifeSize bind together and conceal multiple codecs, cameras, speakers, microphones and monitors into a video wall or a large monitor panorama. This wall or panorama is supplemented by high quality audio so that speech clarity and tone from meeting participants are nearly perfect and spatially accurate. Spatial accuracy means that a person's voice sounds like it comes from them because it emanates from or near a monitor on which they appear.

The result is an interactive video conference with a level of visual and audio clarity that is stunningly real and life like. The Telepresence Effect is a significant step beyond everyday video conferencing with set top systems.

What does Telepresence cost?

Each manufacturer has a different approach to Telepresence and as a result costs for one version of Telepresence can vary widely from another.

LifeSize takes a minimalist approach and their costs are among the lowest starting at about $65,000 USD per system. Polycom has the most options and features to select from and so their Telepresence systems range in price from $125,000 to $500,000 USD. Tandberg/Cisco Telepresence systems are considered among the best for video quality (configurable with a soft blue lighted background, for example) and their prices range from $350,000 to $550,000 USD per room.

Networking and content management systems that users may elect to purchase in addition to Telepresence systems may add significantly to the cost.

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