Cisco telepresence demo; other "IT for sustainability"

There’s a large demo kiosk here with a Cisco “telepresence” setup: basically a 50″ HDTV with pretty good audio, plus a camera mounted at the top of the screen. It’s Internet based, no special cables or anything else. The Cisco rep. (who’s in San Francisco) says Cisco holds about 7000 meetings a week using this system, saving over $300 million in travel and several hundred metric tons of CO2 annually. John Halamka, CEO of Harvard Medical School, is telepresenting from Boston as well.

Sound and image are quite good; the speaker’s image is approximately life size and appears to be looking directly at the audience, more or less. Don’t know what’s on the other end but I assume it’s the same. It’s good enough that I could imagine holding serious meetings this way, but it’s still only one image at a time. Cisco has also installed four private meeting rooms here with 3-5 seats and a 3-screen setup along one side of a wide oval table. The rooms look spiffy, but even though I’ve passed them a dozen times, so far I’ve only seen one of the four rooms actually in use.

Now a Nigerian doctor is asking the Boston hospital guy (who’s also talking about electronic patient records) about how well these systems can fare in a place with frequent power interruptions and surges. He’s not got much of an answer.

The Bella Centre also has a gigantic room full of laptops, maybe 200 of them, for conference participants to use. Wireless works everywhere here, and it’s very fast. Compared to the laptop room and the mammoth halls full of people using their own devices, this kiosk has had only about a dozen people show up for each of the two events I’ve attended.

Other IT-and-sustainability news: Intel, Microsoft, Dell, SAS, and a few other IT companies had booths at the big Bright Green industry expo yesterday, hawking home control systems. There was a panel with reps from most of them on Dec. 11; I’d hoped to attend it but did not get here until that night. Here’s a rather self-promoting article about what they said.

Where the hell is Google? Thought they’d be a big presence here, but I’ve seen nothing.

Written by PAUL EDWARDS.

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