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The Difference Between Video Conferencing and Telepresence

Posted by Chessie Skates on Apr 15, 2014 12:15:00 PM

Sometimes the language used in the video conferencing can be confusing. What’s the difference between video conferencing and telepresence? What is meant by immersive technologies? Technology is constantly changing, so basically, there is not one right answer.  Marketing materials may use one term or the other, and there might not even be a settlement between different vendors as to the meaning of these terms.

But, to offer you some understanding into the key areas of difference, let’s concentration on the early video technology and then focus on more recent developments.

In the beginning video conferencing solutions attempted to provide audio and visual communications between two or more endpoints or sites. During group conferences people would sit around a meeting room table, while the camera was positioned at one end of the room and had to pan around to focus on the current speaker. Some people were located closer to the camera, while others were further away.

Audio often varied in clarity and volume between speakers, and there wasn’t any consistency between conference rooms and environment. There was a variety of video resolutions and most of them were standard definition (SD) with varying grades of user experience. Often the collaboration seemed so awkward and challenging to accomplish that people just quit trying and resorted to audio-only conferences.

Telepresence systems went to the other extreme, solving many of these challenges. They incorporated a very firm definition of the physical conference room structure and the network environment through which the video flowed. These rooms were not budget-friendly to set up but provided the user the face-to-face feeling, with the remote participants looking like they were across the conference room table in life-size presentation. These solutions provided life-like images of all members and were in high-definition (HD).

This is often referred to as immersive telepresence.

More recently, HD teleconferencing has even brought a more personal option with the availability of Cisco Jabber for Windows, powered by Cisco Unified Communications Manager.

Cisco Jabber enables anyone to collaborate anywhere on any device. Cisco Jabber allows you to access presence, IM (instant messaging), video, voice, voice messaging, conferencing, and desktop sharing from your computer, phone, or tablet and enables you to connect with other telepresence systems.

 As quickly as technology changes, the answer to this question may also change. Older video conferencing devices deliver SD video with lower-resolution, lower-quality video feed, whereas telepresence provides HD streams for clear video and a real-life presentation.  Whether you are in the conference room, in your office, or on the go, endpoints and clients now support HD video to offer truer-to-life experiences.

Topics: telepresence


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