Posts tagged telepresence

What the end of Cisco Umi means for home telepresence

In the wake of Cisco pulling the plug on Umi, its home telepresence offering, there’s been no shortage of commentary on the whys of its demise and what it augurs for the future of telepresence and video conferencing in the home (the living room in particular). Cisco clearly had high hopes for the appliance, having pushed Umi with the help of actress Ellen Page (Juno) in an attempt to show its solution in a chummy, living room context.  

The postmortem commentary on Umi has been consistent: too expensive for consumers who were already Skyping for free, a lack of interoperability (David Maldow has more on that at Telepresence Options), higher cable bills to accommodate its 1080p calls, and relatively few customers who could afford its initial $599 price tag and $300 yearly subscription cost (both of those would eventually come down, the latter much more so than the former). 

Maldow feels there is a place for a home telepresence solution that doesn’t require gathering around a small computer screen or using a mobile phone. So does John Vitale, VP of products for AVI-SPL.

Vitale gave me his perspective on why Umi failed and his thoughts on what’s needed for a viable solution in the home consumer market. His commentary follows:

“Cisco ending production should not be an indicator that consumer telepresence solutions such as Umi are not desired. I believe there is a market for a type of product like Umi. It’s the only logical step the technology can take to become a mainstream communication tool for the masses.

“The phenomenon of the mobile market recently showed there is a desire for consumers to use video. However, we can’t expect a consumer to only use a mobile device or their PC for a telepresence call. It needs to be incorporated into those devices as well as their living environment.  The family TV is a good place for it, ideally, integrated like some display manufacturers are doing now with Skype (though nobody would consider Skype a quality telepresence experience) and cable TV providers have been trying to figure out for years to deliver a nice little box they can charge a few extra dollars month to their subscribers.

“It’ll take a decade to get the mass market to replace their TV and replace it with a TV with an embedded TP client. So the need for an appliance box that sits on top of the TV is well justified. It just has to meet these key requirements:

1: It has to work. Video and audio quality is a must, but it also needs to have an intuitive user interface and be truly plug and play, (something the traditional video conferencing industry failed to deliver for the past 25 years).

2: Who are they going to talk to?  It must be connected to a dial plan and infrastructure that can call anyone on anything via video or audio. Yes, exactly the opposite of Skype. This requires supporting standards already in place and an integrated dial plan with the good old fashioned telephone networks. This is more of an overall industry problem to address, not one nice little shiny box.

3: The price has to be right. It needs to be priced within the consumer tolerance range for a home entertainment peripheral that is not seen as a necessary communication tool today. I have my thought on what that price is today, but I’ll leave it up to the consumer electronic geniuses to deal with how much a consumer is willing to tolerate. If items #1 and #2 are covered, #3 determines how many will sell and how fast. If #1 or #2 is still an issue, #3 is irrelevant.

“I think Umi had #1 covered, most of #2 and was in the ball park on #3 (granted they released it with Verizon as a subsidized price point against a subscription).

University Enhances Classroom With Cisco TelePresence

Cisco TelePresence 3210Through Cisco TelePresence, the American University in Dubai is bringing a world of education to its students.  The Mohammed Bin Rashid School for Communication has deployed the Cisco TelePresence 3210 system into its Global Classroom, connecting it with education networks around the world.

One of those networks inlcudes the U.S.-based National Lambda Rail, a networking consortium.

Through this deployment, students at AUD will be able to participate in lifelike, interactive lectures from around the world.

AVI-SPL is the global leader in designing and deploying audio visual solutions for businesses and educational institutions. If you are considering adding distance learning technologies to your classroom, contact us at 1-800-282-6733 or email us at Learn more about the Cisco TelePresence 3000 series at AVI-SPL.


Cisco Telemedicine VX Assistant Adds Telepresence to Health Care

Image of Cisco Telemedicine VX Assistant Cisco recently introduced its Telemedicine VX Clinical Assistant, a mobile collaboration unit that can fit into any environment, including the hospital bedside.  It allows for high-definition content sharing as well as a telepresence experience during video conferencing, helping doctors overcome distance in order to treat patients or provide medical training sessions. This highly mobile solution features:

  • Cisco TelePresence C-Series codec
  • Standards-based
  • 24-inch HD 1080p display
  • 1080p HD camera
  • Runs on AC and battery power 
  • Pan, tilt and zoom for camera can be controlled by a remote
  • Tactile control panel

Go to the Cisco Telemedicine VX Clinical page to watch a brief video on this versatile healthcare solution.

Integrating collaboration tools into your healthcare enterprise is easy with AVI-SPL. Reach one of our experts at 1-800-282-6733 or

Cisco Unveils TelePresence Solutions for SMB Market

On October 25, Cisco celebrated five years of its TelePresence solutions with a 40-minute online conference call that looked back on the company’s advancements in the field of collaboration and looked forward to new offerings.

The presentation also made a point of countering the perception that telepresence is just for C-level execs of large corporations. That discussion offered a natural segueway into an introduction of Cisco’s TelePresence  MX300, a room-based system it plans to make available in Q1 of 2012.  The speakers touted its convenience and ability to be set up in less than 15 minutes, with one noting that the unit had been set up by a client in as few as five minutes.

Continuing that focus on value for SMBs,  the particpants also introduced Cisco TelePresence Callway, a hosted subscription service that starts at $99 per month and gives businesses unilimited calls to any TelePresence endpoint or standards-based video conferencing endpoint.

In addition, Cisco is offering Jabber video for TelePresence, a free software solution that would allow  users to join TelePresence conference calls from their desktop PCs, laptops and tablets. The beta version is set to be released Q1 of 2012.  

Are you using outdated systems to drive your company’s communications? Call AVI-SPL at 1-800-282-6733 or send an email to and find out how we can design a collaboration solution that fits within your budget.

Upcoming Technology Expo 2011 Events – Mark Your Calendars Washington D.C. and Long Beach!

At AVI-SPL’s Technology Expo 2011, you’ll find a dynamic convergence of comprehensive audio/video solutions, an eye-opening range of cutting-edge technologies, and accessibility to over 25 top notch manufacturers behind today’s most compelling communication advancements.

Exclusive presentations include:

  • Harnessing the Hidden Value in Unified Communications (UC), presented by Michael Brandofino, Executive Vice President of Video and UC, AVI-SPL
  • Fundamentals of Audio Video Bridging, presented by Biamp Systems (1 InfoComm CTS LU)
  • Key Building Blocks of Successful Unified Communications, presented by Polycom
  • The Next UC: Unified Control, presented by AMX
  • Digital Video Demystified – An Intro To Digital TV and HDTV Distribution, presented by Cables To Go (1 AIA CES LU; 1 InfoComm CTS LU; 1 BICSI CEC; 1 NSCA LU)

Our in-depth program will present real world examples of AV/IT convergence, and will help you determine new ways in which you can extend unified communications to encompass unified control. You’ll learn how to gain the most ROI on cutting-edge AV solutions – technologies that can dramatically enhance productivity while increasing the strength, depth and versatility of your communications.

Explore Pro AV breakthroughs in digital signage, HD video conferencing and telepresence and audio networking. Attend FREE informational seminars, including AIA and InfoComm CTS certification!

Plus by simply attending, you’re eligible to win an iPad 2!

Event City and Dates

Greenbelt, MD – AVI-SPL’s Technology Expo – Washington DC, Wednesday, November 9, 2011, 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM Registration information »

Long Beach, CA – AVI-SPL’s Technology Expo – Los Angeles, Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM Registration information »