A new “Remote Presence Device” featured in the recent “SXSW Trade Show” in Texas generated huge interest and could well become a much-sought-after virtual conference supplement for the conference and exhibition industry. But argues Tardieu, this new development comes with a hefty price tag and for SMEs, it’s way out of their budget – he proffers their Wavecomms web-based video conferencing system.
A new “Remote Presence Device” featured at the recent “SXSW Trade Show” in Texas generated huge interest and could well become a much-sought-after virtual conference supplement for the conference and exhibition industry.
At first glance, Suitable Technology’s “The Beam” doesn’t appear especially impressive: a flat TV monitor on a stand with wheels. But when it’s fired up, it is apparently very impressive.
The conventional wisdom of our times holds that the Internet has inaugurated an era of virtual collaboration, enabling people to work together around the world and around the clock. But anyone who has tried staging a virtual conference or exhibition featuring a keynote presenter from far, far away will know that it doesn’t always work like that. A virtual conference is often tedious and not as “interactive” as it would seem; the bonds of trust that are facilitated by real face-to-face exchanges are often weaker in virtual exchanges, informal communication is limited or lost, and, frankly, remote team members can all too easily be forgotten.
In theory, The Beam puts an end to all that. When powered up, the eye-level TV monitor appears to contain the head of another person, and the feeling of live interaction is astonishing. Not only that, but the person “in” the monitor can see the people he’s addressing and the room he’s in. At the SXSW show, the presenter in the monitor was actually 1700 miles away from the people she was talking to – but no one would have thought it.
Tardieu argues that this new development comes with a hefty price tag and for SMEs, it’s way out of their budget. He proffers their Wavecomms web-based video conferencing system and makes this comparison.
|THE BEAM FEATURES||WAVECOMMS FEATURES|
|17-inch screen, so your face is human size||
No need for new hardware.
Wavecomms uses an individual’s own desktop or laptop. All that’s required is a webcam and good connection to the internet.
A mobile device version is planned.
|1.58m (5′ 2″) frame, so your body is human size|
|Top speed of 1.5 m/s (3 mph), so you can keep up|
|Two wide-angle HD cameras, for full visual awareness|
|Six-microphone array with noise reduction and echo cancellation, for full audio awareness|
|Powerful built-in speaker, so you will be heard|
|Two dual-band radios with proprietary roaming algorithms, for seamless WiFi connectivity|
|Industry-standard encryption of all communication|
|Intuitive mouse/keyboard driving interface, integrated with video display||· Ultra low cost. There are no set up costs and users only pay for the bandwidth they use
· Completely portable and highly flexible
· Can be run from anywhere (even Starbucks or your hotel room), anytime, with any number of participants;
· Allows for the uploading of any asset (Microsoft Office Suite, Jpegs, Video etc);
· Maintains all assets in a timeline for ease of access at any time post conference. The system also maintains a video recording of the conference in the timeline
· Provides for any participant to interact with these assets e.g. a new brochure design can be discussed and pasted onto the white board for participants to add their comments directly
· Allows participants to exchange notes in a chat room to any individual privately or to all participants in the conference;
· Provides almost any interaction, just as you would have in a face to face meeting – but from any location around the world.
|Wide field of view from the RPD’s two cameras|
|Full screen option for immersive experience|
|Available on both Windows and Mac|
|Full audio control|
|Drive into the dock — no need to connect anything by hand||
No need for a docking station
|LED lets you know when it’s charging|
|Purchase additional docks for increased convenience|
|US $18,000||No set up or hardware costs.
Cost of a conference @ approx. £4 per participant hour e.g.£4 x 5 participants = £20 for a video conference
For those seeking a vividly interactive effect in their virtual conference, this technology will take some beating. It’s like everything, we’d all like a Dyson @£300 but a Henry @£150 does a pretty good job.
And for SME’s Wavecomms provides a very low entry level into video conferencing (and without having to invest in hardware, software and maintenance).