Videoconferencing has been around for a long time now and its educational potential has been exploited in many ways. Telepresence is videoconferencing on steroids and gives the impression that the people you’re speaking to remotely really are sitting on the other side of the same table. I tried this out in a meeting with and Barbara Ougden from CISCO today at their offices in Bedfont Lakes, and Vito Amato in Phoenix.
The audio quality and lip synch were perfect; the video quality exceptional. I actually involuntarily raised my arm to shake Vito’s hand when he first appeared. It would be hard to better this technology, short of projecting a 3-D image of Vito into a real chair in the room a la Star Trek. You can see telepresence technology becoming essential kit very quickly for any company which wants to save on airfares and jet lag. What about for distance learning? Too expensive and bandwidth-hungry for the time being to do this on a big scale I suspect but telepresence sessions with subject experts where learners get together in remote sites could be feasible.