telepresenceThe Internet has spearheaded the movement towards instant forms of communication since its early days. Email, message boards and instant messaging software have been helping people to connect more conveniently for decades. It’s the success of these technologies that has driven innovators to come up with new methods, protocols and options for bridging the gap between people using the avenues of the world wide web.

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Businesses have quickly capitalized on the use of these traceable, convenient and inexpensive communication options to help bolster their productivity and connect them more securely to their industry and their consumers. This in turn has acted as a strong incentive for technology to continue to be utilized and upgraded as often as inspiration and current technology allow.

One way this has developed in recent years started with simple video messages and has exploded into the utilization of the telepresence and technology that allows virtual participants to take advantage of meetings and gatherings without physically being present at all, through services like Blue Jeans and others.

What is Telepresence?
Telepresence is a new technology and one that not much of the public is familiar with. It is generally paired with high price tags and sophisticated software beyond what most people are capable of investing in. Telepresence itself is all about the technology. It is a system that uses multiple video monitor arrays, microphones and stereo speaker setups, paired with software to create a life-life facsimile of an office space or conference so that participants that cannot physically be present still get the benefits of interaction and clear communication.

This innovative solution to instant communication is designed to mimic an in person conference or meeting very closely, including programming for spatial sound- where speakers over the video feel will hear one another as if they were standing or sitting face to face and be able to identify which monitor or position in the video conference the words came from.

Furthermore, telepresence is working to expand this technology to offer to more people and decrease the need that many businesses have to integrate sometimes substandard sound, video and other collaborative hard and software to achieve a pale comparison to today’s Telepresence experiences.

Benefits
Telepresence technology is big deal and not just because it can be seen as the “next big thing”. This technology creates an experience that defies the distance between groups and individuals and creates the illusion of a group of people standing or sitting in the same room. Travel is expensive and a big part of the stereotype of large business jobs and positions, but that allotment of funds could be put to other uses if technology existed to challenge the status quo. That’s exactly what Telepresence aims to do.

As technology expands and advances and mergers and acquisitions occur, partnerships like Cisco video conferencing through Bluejeans’ hosting packages expand this concept beyond multi-million dollar technology conference rooms and begin placing more endpoints with end users, directly into desktop computers so participation in these new video conference settings is easier and more familiar, therefore cutting the learning curve and increasing potential productivity right from the start. Add to that the bundled software options for managing the conference it self and file-sharing, recording and other administrative tools and services and its just like hosting a live conference, but infinitely more flexible.

Potential Problems
With systems that can cost upwards of $150,000 per conference room installation, it’s frightening to think about the problems that can occur and cost even more to correct, so it’s good to examine these potential issues before your company decides to invest.

Thankfully, for all the problems that can occur when technology is involved, telepresence strives to be as simplistic to use and streamlined as possible. Once the system is set up, starting a video conference is as easy as dialing into your target destination and allowing the programming to do its work without requiring advanced controls, lengthy setups or special skills.

The biggest concerns with telepresence are issues of understanding what software and hardware to use to accomplish meeting goals, scheduling conflicts and sometimes misconceptions about what the system can and can’t handle.

Like any emergency situation, there is a small window of time to act, receive help and correct a problem before your opportunity is lost completely. Generally with technology this would refer to the Golden Two Minutes. Any problem that can’t be solved by your current team of IT specialists needs to have someone above them to deal with it. After two minutes, delicate situations like video conferencing, even with telepresence software, will begin to fail.

Conclusion
Aside from the hefty price tag currently attached to telepresence setups and the potentials failings of users and programs alike, this technology is making it more possible every day that people are able to observe and participate in important moments in their industries all over the world. Whether you want to hold a meeting with your partners across the country, or on the opposite side of the world, this communications equipment can not only make it happen, but provide you with an experience that’s more life-like and personal than ever before.

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