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Tuesday, 06 October 2009 07:06

LifeSize Passport bring 'consumer-size' telepresence closer

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The era of consumer telepresence has come a step closer with the launch of a new system by LifeSize targeted at small business, personal office and teleworkers with a starting price of less than $US2500 and billed as "a ground-breaking HD videoconferencing system that provides the telepresence experience to anyone, anywhere."

LifeSize claims that the product, LifeSize Passport, is "One-third the size, one-third the weight and one-third the price of any other system in its class...[and] also the world's first HD video communications system to enable Skype audio calls to the more than 480 million registered Skype users."

LifeSize Passport is claimed to deliver 720p 30 frames per second HD video and HD audio at "just 1Mbps over any IP network," and to require no more than 2Mbps. LifeSize claims it to "delivers the best picture - at least two times better than competing products - across any bandwidth due to LifeSize's unique network efficiency and performance." It measures 20 x 12 x 3.5cms and weighs less than 0.5kg (just over 1kg with power supply and cables).

The product is scheduled to be available globally in Q4 2009 and, if LifeSize's claims are to be believed, marks a significant step towards the goal of consumer telepresence that Cisco and others are working strenuously towards.

Consumer Telepresence is one of the products under development by Cisco's Emerging Technologies Group - which means that Cisco hopes it will generate annual revenues in excess of $US1.0 billion within five to seven years. (ETG was responsible for Cisco's successful business telepresence product, launched in 2006.)

Guido Jouret, CTO of Cisco ETG told journalists at Cisco Networkers in Brisbane last week that Cisco's consumer telepresence product was about a year from release. He declined to be drawn on the question of how much bandwidth the product would need but said: "Our goal is to make this work well over most consumers in the Western world would enjoy as a broadband connection...We are experimenting with a wide range of options."

While there was much focus, Jouret said, on 'my application consumes less bandwidth than yours' at the end of the day, "It is a trade off between resolution, frame rate and pixel depth and people want a standard and that means H.264."

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