Cisco prepares for “home telepresence”

Your HD television is about to become a hub for everything from domestic video calls to remote consultations with your doctor, according to Cisco boss John Chambers.

Outlining Cisco’s vision for “home telepresence” at CES in Las Vegas, Chambers said the video era was only just beginning. “Video isn’t just a killer app. It brings healthcare, it brings entertainment in ways we’re only just beginning to understand,” he told a small audience of invited press. “Video is now the way I communicate with my family.”

To underline his point, Chambers embarked on a demonstration HD video conference call with his wife. He used a simple TV interface to select his wife from a list of contacts, before embarking on an excruciatingly stilted conversation about their marriage.

Cisco remote healthcareIt’s not only marital relationships that Cisco predicts will be conducted via the television. He also demonstrated how HD videoconferencing could be used for remote consultations with doctors, using gadgets that measure factors such as blood-sugar levels to provide on-screen telemetry that the doctor can refer to during the session.

Chambers claimed that high-definition streams would allows physicians to gauge the patient’s facial expressions and body language in a way that wouldn’t be possible with the blurry webcam footage we’re used to today.

Finally, he showed how the system could also be used for remote learning, with a teacher delivering a lesson with onscreen games and activities to help engage children.

Chambers said that the company would embark on field trials of the HD teleconferencing technology from the Spring, but admitted that only a third of US households have the bandwidth to cope with such high quality streams at present.

The Cisco CEO predicted that video would account for 90% of all internet traffic by 2013. “We just love anything that fills up networks,” Chambers admitted.

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