The most sophisticated, reliable telepresence solution in the industry

The Challenge

Cisco’s Telepresence System Business Unit (TSBU) asked Speck Design to develop their first entry into the telepresence market, with the goal of becoming the category leader. Cisco sought to create a life-like, reliable, and visually consistent communication experience incorporating state-of-the-art technologies in HD display, spatial audio, imaging, and lighting -- all accessible through an intuitive user interface. In order to create a comfortable environment conducive to open communication, it was important to play down system complexity and create a great conference room experience. Speck Design ultimately designed the entire solution, including unique displays, cameras, conference tables, and lighting systems that could easily be scaled for different room sizes.


The Solution

Speck Design created the illusion of one central table that extended through the display and was shared by all video conference participants. To further accentuate the sensation of being in the same room, all telepresence rooms were painted exactly the same color and featured the same lighting specifications, so that the setting of each environment was identical. Speck Design developed a solution that reduces harsh lighting, accommodates various seating positions, and accurately simulates directional audio from the point of view of each user. We also addressed the difficult challenge of sufficiently cooling the video processing hardware. Our team achieved all of this thanks to relevant product development experience with the likes of Samsung, Philips, Texas Instruments, Nissan, Herman Miller, Carl Zeiss, Lumileds, and Phonic Ear.

The Results

Design starts and ends with consideration for people. Speck Design focused as much energy and attention to human behaviors as to mechanical requirements. Natural communication, movement, seating behaviors, eye contact, lighting, and sound transmission were prime focal points.

Early in the program, it became clear that microphone placement and performance would be critical success factors. We designed a uniquely shaped microphone unit and accommodated high performance distance parameters, resulting in optimal voice transmission. Our low-profile camera housing captured images beautifully without drawing attention away from an immersive telepresence experience.

Cisco hailed the finished product as “the most sophisticated, yet reliable telepresence solution in the industry.” Beyond that, the system was singly responsible for reducing business travel and contributing to corresponding environmental benefits. Eliminating just one round-trip between New York and London saves 3,000 pounds of atmospheric carbon dioxide -- equivalent to the emissions of up to 90 cars a day.

Capabilities involved