CES: Cisco Makes Case For Telepresence In The Home

At CES 2010 this week, Cisco is singing the virtues of its forthcoming home telepresence offering, which takes advantage of the growing consumer adoption of HDTV and broadband to allow family and friends to interact on a more personal level.

It's a logical progression for Cisco telepresence and one that reflects the falling cost of the technology, according to Dr. Ken Morse, vice president of client architecture in Cisco's Service Provider Video Technology Group.

"High definition telepresence is the kind of thing where 30 seconds in, you forget that it's a virtual experience," Morse said in an interview at CES. "The price points are coming down and that experience is now available in the home to connect friends and family. We think this will resonate with consumers."

Cisco and Verizon will launch the first home telepresence trials this spring. Morse declined to discuss which markets will be involved but said the goals of initial testing include gauging customer demand, determining fee structure, and figuring out network bandwidth consumption.

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This last point will be crucial for service providers that are already whining about the bandwidth demands their customers are placing on networks. Cisco is using leading edge video encoding schemes to make delivery of full 1080p possible through the typical broadband connection found in most homes, Morse said.

"People will be able to leverage the high definition experience to see family and friends as if they were really there. For an affordable price point, they'll be able to access this kind of service over a typical broadband connection," he said.

The economic downturn has helped Cisco make its case for telepresence in businesses, but whether home users will see value in subscribing to stay in touch with family members is a different matter. But Cisco's stance is that the productivity gains telepresence brings to businesses will also appeal to home users.

"We've broken down barriers in business and increased productivity by allowing people to have meetings without getting on planes. There's a natural extension there to the home," Morse said.