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Zoom video conferencing service raises $100 million from Sequoia on billion-dollar valuation

January 17, 2017 | Telepresence Options


Zoom, the cloud video conferencing service, announced a $100 million Series D round, entirely funded by Sequoia. The company now boasts a $1 billion valuation, putting it in the vaunted unicorn club.


Australian entrepreneur unveils 'brain-controlled' telepresence robot

January 13, 2017 | Rena Malai


Aubot founder Marita Cheng: Users say that the experience is 100 per cent better than they expected

A $200 off-the-shelf brain control interface is being used to power an Australian-developed telepresence robot that allows people with limited upper limb mobility to attend work or school remotely.

Created by Melbourne-based company Aubot, the brain-controlled telepresence robot dubbed 'Teleport' uses the MindWave mind control interface to track the focus of a user's brain. Once a person concentrates over a certain threshold, the robot moves.


WR Predictions for 2017

January 10, 2017 | Telepresence Options


WR's annual predictions are brought to you with the same confidence level as last year's. Our acceptable margins for error are now about the same as those for the pollsters who got the U.S. election and Brexit predictions wrong.


Relive Your Best Memories in AR/VR With Owlii's Volumetric 3D Telepresence

January 9, 2017 | Telepresence Options


Have you ever been in the middle of an experience and thought "I wish I could preserve this moment forever?" Currently what you'll do is pull out your phone and snap a few pictures for the various snaps and grams available to you online. But what if you could bottle that moment exactly as it happened in three dimensions and play it back at your convenience? What if you could stand next to your daughter on the alter at her wedding anytime "Butterfly Kisses" comes on the radio? What if you never had to miss a first step, first word or little league game ever again? What if you had Owlii.


Suitable Technologies Unveils an Upgraded version of their Beam Telepresence Robot

January 6, 2017 | Telepresence Options


LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Suitable Technologies, Inc., creator of Beam and BeamProTM remote presence systems popular with many Fortune 500 companies, announced an upgraded Beam -- a more powerful version of the entry-level Beam device. With two dual-band Wi-Fi radios, up to 8 hours of battery life, enhanced speed and additional administrative controls, it's perfect for bringing remote teams together. This new Beam will serve as a mid-level product offering for enterprise customers.


OPCOM introduces PanoDome 360 - a 360 degree videoconferencing camera and microphone array

January 4, 2017 | Telepresence Options


OPCOM  introduced its PanoDome 360, a video conferencing product featuring an 8-megapixel resolution sensor with superb image quality. Equipped with a fisheye lens for optimized wide-angle 200-degree panoramic views, as well as a 360-degree surrounding view without blind spots, the PanoDome 360 easily connects to PC-based video conferencing systems to deliver a cutting-edge portable communication solution. The product also features a 360-degree three-microphone audio input and built-in 5-watt speaker for optimal sound as well as picture-in-picture viewing for remote participation during presentations.


Osterhout Design Group launches new smart glasses as company bridges consumer, industrial applications

January 4, 2017 | Telepresence Options


Osterhout Design Group recently raised $58 million with a plan to expand its smart glasses and augmented reality footprint from government and enterprise customers to consumers. At the Consumer Electronics Show, ODG made good on its expansion plans as it unveiled its R-8 and R-9 smart glasses.


Touch and Collaborate! The Interactive Display Comes Of Age

January 2, 2017 | Telepresence Options


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... Yes, the story of interactive displays is a tale of two births and two lifecycles. The first interactive "touch-capable" large displays were born around 1991 when David Martin and Nancy Knowlton released their first interactive product - called a "Smart Board." While this first birth represented a breakthrough, it isn't necessarily the most significant beginning. The second birth event can actually be tracked to 2007 - when Steve Jobs and Apple released the first iPhone. Yes, touch-enabled devices and interactions existed in many forms before that, but the iPhone / iPad marked the beginning of the second significant phase of this product class - because it was the first device that came to market without an instruction booklet. This represented the birth of users' expectations that touch-screens would be intuitive. Those two events ultimately led to the point where we are today - on the precipice of a huge growth cycle (and related hype cycle) of enterprise and classroom interactive displays - now generally referred to as IWBs or EIDs (interactive white boards / electronic interactive displays.) Sadly though, this best of times will invariably lead to its own worst of times conclusion - that despite all the amazing features and functions of IWBs, they're really only useful (and therefore really only well utilized) in a few specific use cases. Hardware prices into the tens of thousands of dollars per unit - either in up-front or ongoing costs - have not been and will not be successful considering this narrow utilization. Thankfully, there are a new breed of devices coming to the space that drastically reduce the required investment per unit. These devices will lead to an ROI model that - for the first time in the IWB space - will be sustainable.


Designing space for virtual collaboration in an increasingly untethered world

January 2, 2017 | Telepresence Options


Working with colleagues across different geographies and time zones has become the norm since an increasing number of organisations now integrate and seek collaboration at a global level. Interestingly, according to Cisco, 62 percent of workers now regularly collaborate with people in other countries. These globally integrated enterprises (GIE) aim to draw in the best talent from across the world, delivering maximum innovation and efficiency. The rise of global and distributed teams has been further encouraged by the popularity of remote working, with 71 percent of office workers now choosing greater flexibility to work from various locations instead of travelling to the office everyday . And the trend only looks set to gain pace, with 56 percent of senior leaders in large global companies expecting global teams to increase in the next one to three years.


Perils of presence: VR allows the most detailed, intimate digital surveillance yet

December 27, 2016 | Telepresence Options


"WHY DO I look like Justin Timberlake?"

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was on stage wearing a virtual reality headset, feigning surprise at an expressive cartoon simulacrum that seemed to perfectly follow his every gesture.


ezTalks Onion: all-in-one videoconferencing is under-baked

December 27, 2016 | Telepresence Options


I had a chance to get an early version (really early, as there is still some rough edges to be worked out) of the ezTalks Onion. The device (I don't know why they call it the Onion - it doesn't look like one particularly) is an all-in-one videoconferencing device (camera, microphones, speakers) that sits on top of an HDMI-enabled TV or monitor to provide conference room video and audio. Network connectivity is handled through an Ethernet port or, if you're brave, Wi-Fi. The Hong Kong-based company had a successful Indiegogo funding campaign for the device, and is now ready to expand its offerings to the general public.


Social VR Launches On Samsung Gear, Oculus Rift Next

December 20, 2016 | Telepresence Options

Virtual Reality just went social and the first offering from a major player is coming to mobile-based VR viewers with immersive VR system support next year.

While social VR was also an area of focus at a recent VR Hackathon, Oculus just launched two new social-based VR offerings called Rooms and Parties, which are geared toward enabling social interaction and engagement within a singular virtual environment.


Facebook Messenger does group video chats with up to 50 people

December 20, 2016 | Telepresence Options


You wanted it, and Facebook delivered! It's Facebook Messenger chat app now supports video chat with up to 50 people. The bad news is that only six of them can actually view each other. That's also the good news.


Remarkable 'Kissenger' gadget lets you smooch a long-distance lover over the internet

December 20, 2016 | Telepresence Options


Lovers separated by distance can see and talk to each other using the internet - but what about sharing a smooch?

The Kissenger is a gadget that's been knocking around university research labs for the last few years and aims to let couple kiss each other through the internet.


Wainhouse Research's looks back at their 2016 visual collaboration industry predictions

December 14, 2016 | Telepresence Options


Feliz Ano Nuevo!  Seasons Greetings! Happy Holidays, whatever you may celebrate.  Another year, and as everyone is rushing to enter 2017, here's our recap of how we did for 2016. In case your math is off: we nailed FIVE, were halfway right on FIVE, and missed THREE. In baseball that's a .385 batting average!


Team messaging app: Slack adds videoconferencing

December 14, 2016 | Telepresence Options


Since we added voice calling to Slack earlier this year, teams have used the phone icon to make calls across the office and around the world. Now this handy button does even more: one-to-one and group video calling. Just click the phone icon to start a call -- like you've been doing already -- and then use the new camera button within your window to enable video.


Microsoft's surprise hardware hit: The Surface Hub - Average Deal Size in Pipeline is 50 Systems

December 13, 2016 | Telepresence Options


Microsoft has hit a hardware home run that surprised even the people in Redmond. The Surface Hub conference room PC turns out to be selling like hotcakes, surpassing everyone's expectations.

When Microsoft launched its Surface Hub conference room computers about a year and a half ago, we weren't entirely sure what to make of them. On the one hand, they offered a smart mix of video conferencing, digital whiteboarding, and collaborative working with a price that felt surprisingly low--$6,999 for the 55-inch version and $19,999 for the 84-inch version. On the other hand, meeting rooms are where old technology clings on to the bitter end; VGA ports are still abundant, clunky video conferencing systems are the norm, and for many companies a whiteboard is as high-tech as it gets.

There were initial signs of strong demand. Microsoft delayed the release, from September 2015 to January 2016, claiming that higher than expected demand (in particular of the 84-inch version) meant the company needed to change its manufacturing capabilities. The company also hiked the price of both models by $2,000, to $8,999 and $21,999--another move suggesting that demand was healthy. We expected companies would buy a couple of the Surface Hub systems to see if they fit into their workflows. If organizations were ready to make the leap to Skype for Business, Exchange integration, a custom version of Windows 10, and more, we figured maybe a handful more sales would follow from this trial. Microsoft tells us that it expected the same, predicting that companies adopting Surface Hub would buy five to 20 of the machines. Now, after almost a year of real availability, we've learned that's not what happened.

The average Surface Hub customer is buying about 50 devices for each deployment, and the company has achieved more than 2,000 customers. One (unnamed) car manufacturer bought 1,500 of the things. Though Microsoft didn't reveal the exact mix between sizes, Surface Hub looks like it's another billion-dollar-a-year business for the software giant--to boot, it's a piece of hardware that it got right even in version one. In a Forrester report commissioned by Microsoft, it's claimed that meetings start more promptly--less faffing about to get remote attendees dialed in or computers hooked up to the projector--saving 15 to 23 minutes per meeting. Less measurable, Microsoft claims that Surface Hub is also driving greater meeting engagement, with people standing up and engaging with each other and the screen rather than hiding behind their laptop screens around a conference table or quietly playing games on their phones.


Skype for Business video conferencing meshes with Office 365 plans

December 13, 2016 | Telepresence Options


Businesses can deploy Skype for Business video conferencing either as a stand-alone tool or as part of Office 365. Third-party vendors provide endpoint and infrastructure support.


Epson Unveils the New BrightLink Pro Interactive Display Series for Business

December 6, 2016 | Telepresence Options

BrightLink_Pro_1460Ui .jpg

LONG BEACH, Calif., Dec. 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Epson, the number-one selling projector brand worldwide, continues to drive the interactive display market with BrightLink® Pro by building on innovative features for collaborative meetings. With useful digital whiteboard tools, BrightLink Pro makes it easy to capture, save, print, or email without a PC or software. The new BrightLink Pro 1460Ui and 1450Ui interactive displays deliver crisp image quality with Full HD resolution and a bright, readable display up to 100-inches - 3x as big as a 60-inch flat panel. Combined with Epson's advanced 3LCD light engine for bright, vivid colors, the interactive displays result in impactful presentations and productive collaboration.


Disney Research wants to make VR haptics as immersive as visuals

December 6, 2016 | Telepresence Options


Disney Research has developed a 360-degree virtual-reality app that enables users to enhance their experience by adding customized haptic (body sensations) effects that can be triggered by user movements, biofeedback, or timelines.

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