Cisco delivers home video conferencing

Networking giant Cisco has developed a home video-conferencing system that uses high-definition TV and broadband internet connections to make video calls.

Networking giant Cisco has developed a home video-conferencing system that uses high-definition TV and broadband internet connections to make video calls.

The Umi system will bring Cisco into competition with PC based services from Skype and others that utilise a wide range of low cost web cams. Umi includes a high-definition camera with an embedded microphone, a console and a remote control device which buyers plug into their own 1080p HD TV and broadband connection.

Cisco has not yet said whether the Umi system will be interoperable with other manufacturers videoconferencing systems, however, meaning participants can only call other Umi subscribers for the moment.

Nor is it clear whether remote workers or mobile employees can use Umi to patch into Cisco’s corporate telepresence systems for virtual boardroom meetings.

One thing very different from Skype and other low cost web cam based videoconferencing services is the cost: $599 (£377) for the Umi hardware plus a $25 (£16) service subscription fee, whilst Cisco has not yet said if or when Umi will be available for European buyers.

Skype’s PC based video communication service, which works with any web cam, has an estimated 400m users worldwide, though only a fraction of those actually pay for it. Logitech will also deliver a set top box that allows Google TV users to make video calls.

Further information:

http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/2010/prod_100610.html

http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/features/allfeatures/video-call/

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