Dec 27, 2010

ūmi from Cisco - Forget about the video phone, why not try home teleconferencing on your huge HDTV?

You've probably seen the series of commercial for ūmi telepresence featuring Ellen Page. In one, she's trying to learn how to play the spoons.  In another, she's engaging in a tea party.  The one I like the best is when she tries to "telepresentlyconverse with her friend, Steve.   From what I can tell from the commercials and the Cisco website, I think that the ūmi is a much better option than the video phones that have been brought to market over the past two years!

If you want to be telepresent, and if you have $599.00, you can add a ūmi to your cart while visiting the CISCO ūmi telepresence website. With free shipping and a 30-day return policy, why not try it? If your friends and relatives have a laptop and Google Chat, you can still use your ūmi  with them.  (My hunch is that the experience is much better if both parties have a ūmi.)

It might cost a bit more than $599.00 to get your ūmi up and running. First of all, you'll need to have an HDTV with an HDMI input port, with a resolution of 1080p, or 720p. You also need to have a top-tier broadband connection to the Internet if you have a 1080p HDTV, which requires a minimum of 3.5 Mbps upload/download speed. If you have a 720p HDTV, you'll need a minimum of 1.5 Mbps upload and download speed.

FYI: I connect to the Internet from my computer on the second floor of my home via a wireless router, located on the first floor. My upload speed is just 0.965 Mbps, which is not fast enough for the ūmi. My download speed is 8.991 Mbps, which is more than I need. I checked Time Warner Cable and found out that they now offer Wideband, with download speeds up to 50 Mbps, with upload speed up to 5 Mbps.  If I really, really want a ūmi, I'll have to solve this problem with Time Warner/Roadrunner.

The following video has a short discussion of TV UI and usability testing- they tossed a bag of rice at the TV to simulate a cat jumping at the screen....

In the Lab: The Innovators Behind Cisco ūmi

Below are a couple of videos about the ūmi from Cisco's YouTube site:

Wikipedia's definition of telepresence:
"Telepresence refers to a set of technologies which allow a person to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance that they were present, or to have an effect, via telerobotics, at a place other than their true location."
Cisco Broadband Speed Test
Cisco Blog
How is your network running?
Brenna Karr, Cisco Blog 12/17/10
Previous post:  Like Neil Steinberg once said, "Dude, Where's My Video Phone?"
Dude, Where's My Video Phone?
Neil Steinberg, Forbes, 10/15/07

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