By Larry Dignan
Posting in Cities
Cisco recently launched its Umi home telepresence system with the aim to "change the way we are able to be together with family and friends." How long before this goes mainstream?
Cisco recently launched its Umi home telepresence system with the aim to "change the way we are able to be together with family and friends."
John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, sees a day where consumers, businesses and governments will all be able to connect without leaving their home. Financial services, education and health care are notable industries. Small business will also be very interested.
To get a read for what Cisco is planning for the Umi, check out its smart city experiment in Songdo. Cisco has a telepresence unit in every home.
The reality of marketplace acceptance will be a bit different in developed markets.
Among the key hurdles:
- Price: Cisco is charging $599 for the set-top box along with a $24.99 monthly service fee.
- Privacy: Are we really going to embrace teleconferencing at home? The idea raises a bevy of questions. Do you have to clean up before someone drops in via video? What are the privacy expectations? Do you have to shower? The list could get endless quickly as norms are established.
- Bandwidth: Cities that are being established today---say Songdo---don't have to worry about bandwidth. Cisco, however, estimates that its Umi could only be adopted by 32 million homes due to bandwidth and TV requirements.
What also remains to be seen is whether home telepresence is really necessary. After all cheaper technologies like Apple's FaceTime, Skype and instant messaging may be good enough. Immersive is nice, but there's a price.
Perhaps home telepresence becomes as common as a phone call, but it'll be interesting to see how the mainstream adoption turns out.
Oct 10, 2010
I currently have a computer connected to my television, with a camcorder serving as the webcam (which allows use of optical zoom). We used it successfully when my son was snowed in and unable to join us at Christmas, and it was nice being able to see him almost life-sized. His wife was already here, and she opened his presents and held them up to the camera for him to see. However, we've only used it twice since then, even though they're living overseas. It still isn't as easy as picking up a telephone... I have to switch the input on the TV, then grab the bluetooth keyboard and get it to sync. Of course, my system doesn't give us a high-def picture because of bandwidth issues. Skype and Yahoo (and the other options) can't give us that now. Your June 3 post quotes DeBeer as saying that this will do for services what the browser did for commerce, suggesting that we now buy things online instead of driving somewhere. Well, we do that for some things, but mostly we still drive. We've had some form of telepresence at work for years. I expected that its use would take off after 9/11, but it didn't. I expected a greater push to use it during this recession, but I haven't seen it. There was a push to implement it, but even though it's a very nice system, it's hardly used. I am interested in this, and expect it to be adopted to some extent, but I have doubts that it will ever be ubiquitous. If it easy enough, though, I could be proven wrong.
Cisco has a problem (in Home Markets) of over pricing its new systems. The $599 Umi device cost to Cisco are probably in the $200 range (Guess). This is very similar to what Cisco is trying to do with their new Home Gateway/Portal Display (Energy Mgmnt Controller), which is OEM from OpenPeaks new OpenFrame 7 Display). Cost of that device in quantity is also around $2-300. They really need to listen to what their own in house Linksys folks are telling them about how to price Home/CE devices. When you compete with a Logitec and others in this CE market you will lose with high prices. Jim A.