It's interesting to watch the interaction between consumer and
enterprise. At some points, they each go decades without interfering
with one another. But in other cases, the natural evolution of the
product cycle makes one more viable than the other, or even viable in
both arena. That's what is happening with telepresence solutions. At
first, these mega-expensive rigs that connected entire classrooms of
people with other classrooms located on the other side of the planet (or
just across town) were perfect for institutions and businesses, but
there wasn't really a practical use for the consumer.
Today, with the blossoming of Skype
and other video communications, it's
hard for even consumers to ignore. Cisco
's Umi technology really began
as an enterprise product, but the newest release makes more and more
sense for the home or small business. The newest release highlights a
mixture of TelePrescence and Umi, with a lower price tag and more
consumer appeal. Cisco is enabling interoperability between Umi and the
Cisco TelePresence portfolio for businesses, and they are also
announcing an expansion of their Umi product line with a range of
options, from free HD desktop video to high-quality immersive
telepresence experiences on an HDTV.
The announcement also includes an expansion to the Umi line, with the
Umi Connect being a free HD calling client for PCs and Macs, the Umi 720
for $399, and the Umi 1080 for $499. Umi service for these products
runs $99 per year, or $9.95 per month; there's no fee for Umi Connect
for PC/Mac. The Umi 720 and 1080 systems include an HD camera, a console
and a remote, and they each offer pan/tilt/zoom functions. These can
obviously be used to call other Umi customers, or to call businesses who
use TelePrescence. Both the 720 and 1080 are available now at Best Buy
Magnolia, while the Connect is in beta trials and is scheduled to be
available via free download this summer.
Cisco Connects Businesses to Consumers via Video; Announces Seamless Connectivity between umi and Cisco TelePresence and Expansion of Consumer TelePresence Portfolio
SAN JOSE, Calif. – March 7, 2011 – Extending the company's success in telepresence, Cisco today announced that it is enabling businesses to connect with consumers via full interoperability between Cisco umiTM and the Cisco TelePresence portfolio for businesses. Cisco is also announcing an expansion of its umi product line with a range of options, from free HD desktop video to high-quality immersive telepresence experiences on an HDTV.
Business Services in the Home
As video communications becomes pervasive, businesses and consumers are increasingly looking to augment in-person meetings and interactions with lifelike video experiences. With today's announcement, umi users in the home will be able to connect with businesses over telepresence, paving the way for innovative new video services such as distance learning, tele-health, virtual professional services and community services.
Expanded umi Product Line
Key to today's announcement is the extension of the umi product line, making home telepresence experiences available to more consumers. umi is a first-of-its-kind, easy-to-use consumer product that delivers a high-quality, immersive video calling experience that goes beyond just seeing the people you talk to. The expanded portfolio includes:
Cisco umi Connect, a free HD calling client for PC and Macs (currently in trials);
Cisco umi 720, a new product that delivers an immersive telepresence experience with lower broadband requirements, which will be available at $399;
Cisco umi 1080, the original breakthrough telepresence offering for the home now available at a reduced price of $499.
The service fee for Cisco umi 1080 and 720 is now $99.00 a year, or $9.95 a month. There is no service fee for umi Connect for PC and Mac.
umi 1080 and 720 include an HD camera, a console and a remote. Unlike video chat, umi telepresence was specifically designed for the living room and group-to-group conversations, delivering a truly immersive and lifelike video experience that fits into every home, automatically adjusting to lighting conditions and background noise to provide the most natural communications experience possible. Both umi 1080 and 720 products offer optical zoom and automatic pan and tilt to deliver close up and room size experiences.
umi 1080 and 720 connect to any existing HD television and broadband internet connection to deliver a high-quality, HD video calling experience in the home. The new Cisco umi 720 requires less bandwidth, 1.5 mbps upload and download speeds which are readily available across most of the U.S. Both versions of Cisco umi intelligently adapt to the quality of the broadband in the home.
Sharing Video Experiences
In addition to its immersive and lifelike experience and incredible ease of use, umi also offers HD recording and sharing on FaceBook, Flipshare and You Tube. In the case of a missed call consumers can leave video messages for one another. Both recorded videos and messages can be retrieved from a PC, Mac or smart phone. In addition, with Cisco umi telepresence, users can also place and receive video calls from anyone with a computer (PC or Mac), webcam and umi Connect or Google Video Chat.
"With today's announcement, Cisco is continuing to deliver innovative, market-leading video and telepresence solutions that enable consumers to connect and transact with businesses from the comfort of their home," said Marthin De Beer, senior vice president, TelePresence, Emerging Technologies & Consumer Business, Cisco. "By offering a range of video solutions – from high-end Cisco TelePresence for business to the free Cisco umi Connect product, we are extending our leadership in telepresence and driving the pervasive use of HD video."
umi for Service Providers
Today's announcement gives consumers, businesses and service providers the industry's widest choice of high-definition telepresence video communications options. Verizon will be launching umi for its FiOS network this year. In addition, umi is in field trials with service providers in Europe, Latin America and Asia.
Cisco umi 1080 is now available for 499.00 at Best Buy Magnolia and at bestbuy.com; Cisco umi 720 is scheduled to be available for $399.00 early this summer. Cisco umi Connect is in beta trials and is scheduled to be available via free download this summer.