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Latest Telepresence and Visual Collaboration News:
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WebRTC Video Harmony at Last?

November 24, 2014 | Telepresence Options


At this month's IETF meetings in Honolulu, the RTCWeb working group again took up the issue of how to deliver interoperable video conferencing within the WebRTC specification -- and finally made a decision that should satisfy, at least temporarily, developers.

It's been a long haul. Past discussions have largely stalled due to debate between those who favored H.264 for its ability to integrate with existing video conferencing equipment and those who favored Google's VP8 because it is a royalty free codec. Last year Cisco even attempted to swing momentum behind H.264 by offering to pay all royalties for those wishing to use a binary it would make available. But this gesture fell flat in the open source community where developers wanted the freedom to modify and recompile the binary to meet their individual application needs.


Cisco launches new telepresence system, Project Squared mobile app

November 18, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Cisco on Monday launched a new three-screen telepresence system designed to cut costs on bandwidth and deployment as well as a mobile collaboration effort dubbed Project Squared.

The moves, announced at its Collaboration Summit 2014, come as Cisco is resetting its collaboration portfolio with the aim of connecting screens of all sizes and power them on its cloud.


Blackberry announces cross-platform voice and HD video conferencing app BBM Meetings

November 14, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Blackberry has announced a new cross platform voice and video teleconferencing app that the company claims allows on-the-go professionals to schedule, host, and participate in meetings easily. Dubbed BBM Meetings, the app is currently available on Android, BB10, Windows PC, and Mac, although the company says an iOS version is in the works.

BBM Meetings allows you to start or schedule a virtual meeting on the fly from any BBM chat, multi person chat, group chat, or BBM Voice call. Attendees can be invited from your local or company address book over BBM or email, and when the meeting is getting underway, they'll receive an inbound call which they have to answer just like a voice call to join the meeting, hence eliminating the need for conference IDs, passcodes, and PINs.


The future of office video conferencing: Microsoft Lync to be combined with Skype

November 13, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Microsoft is preparing to combine its business-focused Lync video conferencing and instant messaging app with Skype to create a new package called Skype for Business.

The package, set to be released in the first half of 2015, will see the creation of a new Skype-like client app, an upgrade of the Lync server software and updates to the service in Office 365.


Virtual Reality Aims for the Mobile Phone

November 12, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Max Cohen, head of mobile at Oculus VR, the virtual reality startup bought by Facebook this year for $2 billion, is unequivocal: the dominant way most consumers will experience virtual reality will be on mobile devices.

"PCs and dedicated machines will always have more power, but at some point, graphics become 'good enough' on a mobile device and none of that matters anymore," Cohen says. "Will it be in two years' time? Five years? Ten? I don't know. But it will happen. You can't surpass the beauty of being untethered."


New Amazon Device Uses Voice Recognition to Track Users in Their Homes

November 10, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Controlled by a user's voice, Amazon boasts the device's ability to answer questions, provide weather updates, and play music.

"Amazon Echo is designed around your voice. It's always on--just ask for information, music, news, weather, and more," Amazon states. "Echo begins working as soon as it hears you say the wake word, 'Alexa.' It's also an expertly-tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound."

Using "far-field voice recognition," the Echo can detect and analyze voices even when other loud noises are prevalent.


Brain-to-brain interface via Internet replicated, improved

November 7, 2014 | Telepresence Options


University of Washington researchers have successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people as part of a scientific study following the team's initial demonstration a year ago, reported on KurzweilAI.


In the newly published study, which involved six people (instead of two), researchers were able to transmit the signals from one person's brain over the Internet and use these signals to control the hand motions of another person within a split second of sending that signal.


I'm terrified of my new TV: Why I'm scared to turn this thing on -- and you'd be, too

November 3, 2014 | Telepresence Options


I just bought a new TV. The old one had a good run, but after the volume got stuck on 63, I decided it was time to replace it. I am now the owner of a new "smart" TV, which promises to deliver streaming multimedia content, games, apps, social media and Internet browsing. Oh, and TV too.

The only problem is that I'm now afraid to use it. You would be too -- if you read through the 46-page privacy policy.


HP Sprout is a physical-to-virtual PC. Translation: It's a weird new future

October 30, 2014 | Telepresence Options


It's hard to find the words to describe the funky but creative HP Sprout system, but let's give it a go: it's a desktop computer with a projector that scans physical items, turns them digital in a few seconds and allows you to manipulate the images using your fingers.

Boiled down: It's a blend of what we already know -- the standard computer, letting you check email, surf the web, write documents and so on -- with a touch of the future, particularly in the form of having a "touch mat" instead of a traditional keyboard and the ability to instantly make 3D objects into scans.


The First Feature-Length Oculus Rift Film is Perfect Poop-Your-Pants Halloween Viewing

October 28, 2014 | Telepresence Options


The focus with Oculus Rift may currently be on virtual reality gaming but, as we learnt at last week's Interstellar VR experience, there's room for the headset in Hollywood too. Now Oculus Rift has its first ever feature-length movie, The Banshee Chapter, a horror movie just in time for an immersive Halloween scare.

A modernised Lovecraftian tale, The Banshee Chapter (produced by Star Trek's Zachary Quinto) was first given a standard video-on-demand release back in 2013. Now its makers have teamed up with virtual-reality experts Jamwix to give the film a VR overhaul, retroactively adding headset support that "creates the sensation you're inside the movie itself," according to engineer Bill Booth.


Take Control of Video Conferencing with Motrr & Rango

October 23, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Santa Cruz, Calif. - October 22, 2014 - Motrr, bringing high design robotics to everyday life, and Rango have partnered to launch a fully interactive video calling experience you can't find anywhere else. Rango is an app designed from the ground up to utilize the Galileo motorized dock to turn your iOS device into a 360 degree remote control video camera perfect for travel, business and personal use.


Panasonic's On4Today Brings Telehealth to Assisted Living Facilities

October 21, 2014 | Telepresence Options


The market for telehealth solutions is growing rapidly as technologies and networks improve. Users across the globe - from patients to healthcare providers - are looking for an efficient, cost effective way to make use of health services.

A recent report from BCC Research predicts the market will grow to $43.4 billion by 2019, - with the 'telehome' category dominating the segment.


Google/Magic Leap's 3D "Cinematic Reality" to replace VR, AR?

October 15, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Google and other investors are planning a huge investment in Magic Leap, a secretive but boastful company building hardware and software it says will deliver "cinematic reality."

Sources say Google is leading what could be a $500 million funding round for the Florida-based company; Andreessen Horowitz may be one of the other investors in the consortium. Magic Leap already announced $50 million in funding earlier this year.


San Francisco Drone Maker Unveils Smartphone-Controlled Drone That Folds Up Into Pocket Size

October 14, 2014 | Telepresence Options


SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A San Francisco-based drone maker has unveiled a device it calls a drone for the masses that can shoot video and fold up into the size and shape of a cellphone.

The AeriCam Anura is a pocket-sized drone with fold-away rotors that can be controlled and monitored over WiFi with a user's smartphone.


Highfive: A videoconferencing startup hopes to make conference calls feel less like the ninth circle of hell

October 8, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Today, the odds are better than ever that the team you work with is composed of people from around the country or even the world. To get together for collaboration and conversation, we arrange conference calls. Unfortunately, conference calls are hell, as depicted in this YouTube video. The reason it has over 8 million views is that it's painfully, hilariously true.

Today a startup called Highfive is unveiling its solution, a $799 gadget that hopes to do for the speakerphone what Nest did for the thermostat. It's an HD video camera with a four-piece microphone array that connects to any screen with an HDMI input. It's paired with a modern software package that makes organizing and joining a meeting feel less like the mental equivalent of walking over hot coals. The goal is a mass-market solution that can carve off a big slice of the $3 billion Cisco and Polycom rake in each year selling teleconferencing machines. "It would be amazing to imbue this category with a little bit of sexiness," says CEO Shan Sinha.


'LovePalz' Social Network Lets You Control Strangers' Sex Toys from Afar

October 8, 2014 | Telepresence Options


I've written before about teledildonics, the fancy name for computer-controlled sex toys capable of being operated over large geographical distances. It was this past summer, when I tested out OhMiBod's blueMotion, the bluetooth-enabled vibrator designed with long-distance couples in mind.

"For us, its about keeping a connection or making a connection with somebody who might be not physically standing next to you," OhMiBod cofounder Suki Dunham said at the time.

But while OhMiBod is gearing their teledildonic products toward couples, another company, LovePalz, wants to help you have long-distance cybersex with total strangers. The Taiwan-based company is currently beta testing a new social network, called LovePalz Club, that'll let users set up profiles, connect with new friends they find attractive, and then control those new friends' sex toys. In other words, it's a combination of Facebook, OkCupid, Tinder... and actual sex.


Microsoft Can Now Turn Any Space Into The Holodeck

October 6, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Last year, Microsoft Research revealed Illumiroom--which used projectors to stretch the image on your TV to take over a whole wall. Now comes the sequel. Called RoomAlive, this new system can turn every surface in a room--from the floor to the couch cushions to your own skin--into a glowing screen that reacts to your movement. It's as if your whole analog world has been digitized. And that digital world can see where you're looking, pointing, and touching, and adapt itself accordingly.


INFOGRAPHIC: Why Millennials (and everyone else) prefer face-to-face meetings

October 3, 2014 | Telepresence Options


It would stand to reason that most millennials prefer a virtual meeting over face-to-face interaction in today's business landscape. Ours is a generation, after all, that increasingly seeks comfort and convenience in instant messaging, web casting and video conferencing, right?

Not so fast. According to this infographic, compiled by CT Business Travel and NeoMam Studios, a digital design studio, 78 percent of Gen Xers and 80 percent of millennials say they actually prefer in-person communication with their colleagues.

It's a sentiment that transcends age. Eighty-seven percent of all professionals believe that face-to-face meetings are essential for clinching business deals. This is largely because virtual conferencing not only creates lapses in emotional cues but inhibits crucial opportunities for casual bonding.


Virtual reality brings immersive experiences within easy reach

October 2, 2014 | Telepresence Options


The recent investments in virtual reality by powerhouses Facebook, Samsung, Microsoft, and others promises immersive telepresence conferencing experiences. Here is an excellent article by Chris Griffin of the Australian who offers one of the best overviews of the state of the industry.


Pristine raises $5.4M for Google Glass videoconferencing for physicians

September 30, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Start-up Pristine has raised a $5.4M series A round to continue development of their videoconferencing tele-health application for Google Glass. The app will connect physicians, surgeons, and medical first-responders to instantaneously share their view of medical emergencies, surgical procedures, and other medical applications for consultations with subject matter experts in the field.

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