Cisco to offer free TelePresence client?

Cisco Systems is taking several steps to extend its TelePresencevideoconferencing technology beyond enterprise meeting rooms,introducing two endpoints and a free client application for ad hocparticipants to download.

To mark the fifth anniversary of its introduction of TelePresence, Cisco previewedseveral new offerings during a press event held Tuesday at itsTelePresence proving ground in San Jose, California. The products aredue to be announced Wednesday. At the event, Cisco emphasized that itsvideoconferencing technology is becoming more accessible, five yearsafter the company unveiled the three-screen TelePresence 3000 roomsystem then priced at nearly US$300,000 per room.

“TelePresence is no longer restricted to the boardroom. It is now …wanted everywhere,” said Jacob Nordan, director of product managementin Cisco’s Infrastructure Business Unit, who joined the meeting fromOslo via TelePresence. Cisco’s emphasis echoes what analysts and othervendors have said over the past year, focusing on the growth potentialfor desktop and mobile videoconferencing.

At the event, the company unveiled Cisco Jabber Video forTelePresence, a free application designed to let just about anyone witha PC or Mac join a TelePresence session. An enterprise or smallbusiness with an in-house or hosted TelePresence capability can go to aglobally accessible website and create an invitation that goes out tocustomers, partners or other participants via e-mail. The participantswill receive an e-mail with a link to download the Jabber Videosoftware and join the meeting.

Jabber Video for TelePresence is going into beta testing soon and isexpected to become generally available early next year, said GinaClark, vice president and general manager of the TelePresence Cloudbusiness unit. It currently is an English-language product but peopleall over the world will be able to download it, she said.

Cisco also introduced the MX300, a new model in its line ofvalue-priced TelePresence endpoints for small and medium-sizebusinesses. The MX300 is a step up from the MX200 introduced earlierthis year, featuring a 55-inch (139.7 centimeters) display comparedwith the MX200’s 42-inch. The new unit can deliver videoconferences at1080p resolution and 30 frames per second and is suitable for as manyas nine people in a room, Cisco said. The unit is designed to be set upin less than 15 minutes. It is scheduled to hit the market in Januaryfor a list price of $27,600.

Also on Tuesday, the company announced the Cisco TelePresence VX Clinical Assistant. Thisendpoint is designed for use in medical applications, including remotepatient consultations and medical education. The VX is set to go onsale in the first quarter of next year in the U.S. and Europe, startingat $29,500.

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