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Cisco launches 'virtual reality' videoconferencing

Cisco has launched a videoconferencing system and service that uses virtual reality techniques to much more closely emulate real face-to-face interactions than current systems are able to achieve, and has named AT&T and Verizon Business as initial partners delivering the service to end user organisations.

Citing research indicating that more than 60 percent of interpersonal communication is non-verbal and claiming that existing collaboration tools capture few of these non-verbal messages, Charles Giancarlo, Cisco's chief development officer and senior vice president claims that "Just as the jet engine opened up the world to business and personal experience, so will Cisco TelePresence open up the world to natural communications that have an immediacy and effectiveness never before possible at distance."

Cisco claims that the technology has "the ability to create a real sense of sitting face-to-face with a person on the other side of the virtual TelePresence table...[completely changing] the experience of remote communications."

Key components of the system are ultra high definition video, "imperceptible" end-to-end latency and wideband spatial audio. Cisco says that, as the telepresence category grows, it will develop additional applications tailored for specific industries such as healthcare, retail, banking, entertainment or government. "This could include a doctor's appointment, a 'virtual specialist' for providing in-store expertise, remote interviews or depositions, or a visit between the kids and grandparents without the need for travel.

The first application to market, Cisco TelePresence Meeting, is targeted at businesses to facilitate collaboration and enhance productivity.

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