Recently in Telepresence Category

Don't forget to enter the Logitech competition!

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We have a top-of-the-range conference camera up for grabs, thanks to those lovely people at Logitech. Just come up with the best caption for this image to be in with a chance of winning!

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We were pretty impressed with the Logitech Business BCC950 Conference Cam when reviewing it, claiming to bridgethe "small meeting gap" in the market. It accommodates groups of 3-4 people without them having to sit each other's laps. This removes the need for a large scale meeting room video system which can be very costly. It is also surprisingly light; weighing 568g it can easily be picked up and taken into a meeting room.

Additionally, this device would suit home workers, enabling employees to have meetings using software such as Skype in full HD clarity.  

Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam - left view.jpg


Make sure you comment on this post OR tweet your answers to @ComputerWeekly with the hashtag #CWlogitechcomp

GOOD LUCK!

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Inspect-a-Gadget Logitech competition

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We have a Logitech Business BCC950 Conference Cam up for grabs. 

We reviewed this nice little bit of kit last year and were suitably impressed...

Logitech claims that its ConferenceCam bridges the "small meeting gap" in the market. It accommodates groups of 3-4 people without them having to sit each other's laps. This removes the need for a large scale meeting room video system which can be very costly. It is also surprisingly light; weighing 568g it can easily be picked up and taken into a meeting room.

Additionally, this device would suit home workers, enabling employees to have meetings using software such as Skype in full HD clarity.  

Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam - left view.jpg

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning the prize is come up with a caption for the following image:

LogitechcompPIC.jpg

We've all been there, so hopefully there will be plenty of inspiration. Make sure you comment on this blog post below (make sure you register with your email address so we can contact you if you win)

Closing date for the competition is midnight on the 30th of June and the winning caption will be chosen by the Computer Weekly team. Judges decision is final

This competition is open to UK residents only.

 

 

Terms and conditions

  • This competition is open to all UK residents aged 18 or over except for employees of TechTarget and Logitech and their immediate families.
  • The competition closes on July 30th 2013 at midnight.
  • Each participant can only enter the competition once.
  • The prize will be awarded to the individual that comes up with the best caption for the photograph.
  • The winner will be chosen by ComputerWeekly.com.
  • The winner will be notified by email.
  • No cash alternatives are available.
  • Entering the competition is free. No purchase is necessary.
  • The ComputerWeekly.com's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • The name of the winners will be posted on Inspect-a-Gadget and will be contacted by email within 30 days of the competition deadline. All email notifications will be sent to the email address provided by participant entering the competition. The participant must respond to email notification within 14 days of the email notification. Unclaimed prizes will be forfeited and a new winner will be chosen.


Entrants can contact ComputerWeekly.com with any questions at the following email address: cbaldwin@techtarget.com with the subject of the email 'Logitech COMPETITION.' But all competition entries must be submitted via commenting on the blog post.

By entering the competition, entrants are deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions.

 


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CES 2013: The smartest home in the neighbourhood

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The connected home is one of the big themes at CES in Las Vegas this year. The idea of connecting all your devices to the internet and seamlessly to each other has popped up a few times at the pre-CES press events already. 

Expect to soon see many uneventful pieces of technology suddenly being connected to the internet, like a fridge.

And Samsung have done just that. The T9000 LCD Refrigerator was unveiled at the company's press conference this afternoon, its unique selling point was that users can to adjust the freezer and fridge space based on need. However, the fridge also features an LCD screen which is connected to the internet, so you can use apps such as Evernote to track your shopping list and connect your phone to your fridge to use it as a baby monitor.

So it seems that the fridge magnet supporting that simple scrap piece of note paper will soon be obsolete. What will the tourist boards across the world think of this travesty?

Moving on slightly from intelligent fridges, another company at CES this afternoon touched on the idea of the "smartest home in the neighbourhood", the networking equipment maker, Netgear.

"Every device in the house powered by electricity should be connected to the internet.," said CEO, Patrick Lo.

In three years, the smart home market will have increased from $1.2bn today, to $3.6bn in 2015, he said.

Other than smart TVs and games consoles, we will soon be filling our homes with cameras and sensors on door handles to detect our presence.

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Netgear announced updates to various pieces of its technology portfolio including a nightvision version of its award winning VueZone surveillance camera. VueZone is a highly portable, wirefree camera for small businesses and home owners who can access live video feeds on their mobile devices.

However, a smart home is useless without ubiquitous connectivity. Netgear pointed out that the top "dead zones" for wireless connectivity in the house were the back garden, garage and the bedroom. While unveiling a dual-band wall plug range extender, the company also showed off a product which invoked the phrase "beam me up Scotty." Netgear took this opportunity to introduce its beamforming technology, which allows a router to detect wireless devices in the home and beam a wireless signal in its direction to ensure complete connectivity.

Keep an eye on the blog for more news about the connected home and connected devices as I swan around Sin City trying to inspect all the latest gadgets and gizmos in town. 

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On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...MyTV2Go-M

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This nifty little gadget is an aerial which plugs into your iPad or iPad, locates freeview channels and plays them straight to the screen - no excuse to miss all your favourite Christmas specials this holiday season.

I was a bit dubious about the MyTV2Go-M, I use my iPad mainly for streaming programmes from LoveFilm and iPlayer or watching films, and I didn't think that this very small device would provide a decent quality picture. I was proved wrong.

Once the MyTV2Go was charged via a USB port, it took about two minutes to plug it in, download the requested app and start watching TV programmes live. It quickly searched and found the majority of freeview channels such as BBC, ITV, E4 and Dave and after a few seconds of crackling, produced a sharp, clear picture.

The app itself is very useful; it gives you information about channels and upcoming programmes, while also giving you an option to record shows (as long as the application is open at the time).

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The device's internal battery only lasts for two hours of viewing , alternatively you can change the settings to use the iPad to charge the device, which the manufacturer says will provides nine hours in airplane mode.

And the other reason why this gadget is such a good idea, is that you don't need the internet to stream, as it works via a TV signal. No hunting for a WiFi network or using up your precious data allowance again.

Available from £79.99 upwards from online retailers such as Play.com, Amazon and eBay.

Review: Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam (RRP: £199.99)

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The idea of working remotely from home instead of commuting into the office is slowly beginning to become a reality. Claims that flexible working saves money, energy and increases productivity has encouraged some firms to set in place remote working strategies.
Thumbnail image for Logitech_confcam_PNG.png

With an array of software and services such as VPNs (virtual private network), Dropbox, Skype, along with gadgets like webcams, smartphones and Mi-Fis (mobile Wi-Fi hotspots), spending a day away from your desk can easily be as productive as a day in work.

And if our near-empty London streets during the Olympics were anything to go by, perhaps many people out there have been trying out flexible working for the first time this past fortnight?

According to Microsoft, a staggering 90% of UK businesses now allow flexible working according to a Microsoft survey, but businesses are failing to provide the technology and policies to support it.

For the flexible worker or in-office conferences, computer accessory giant, Logitech, have produced a ConferenceCam suited for small group video conferencing with the added bonus of a full HD camera. 

Set up

Setting up the device was generally straight forward, attach the camera, plug into a power socket and your USB port and away you go - no device software needed.

There is no 'ON' button, so I was waiting a little while for a confirmation light, and it wasn't until I noticed Skype notifications coming out of the device speakers that I realised it was all connected with no software downloads - very simple.

Ease of use

Hit video call on Skype and the ConferenceCam connects like any other web cam.

Tested on Windows 7 using Skype, my first impressions of the video quality were great. The image was very sharp, thanks to the full HD camera. And the all-in-one audio and video worked really well, picking up voice clearly on both ends of the call.

Conf cam thumbs up.jpg

The device is £199.99 and also comes with a little remote control which allows you to sit back and adjust the angle of the camera using its 78 degree field of view (this can also be done on the base of the device). The camera also has a zoom function, however this could be a little smoother.

Logitech claims that its ConferenceCam bridges the "small meeting gap" in the market. It accommodates groups of 3-4 people without them having to sit each other's laps. This removes the need for a large scale meeting room video system which can be very costly. It is also surprisingly light; weighing 568g it can easily be picked up and taken into a meeting room.

So how many people can you actually fit in the cameras field of vision? We thought we would experiment in the CW office....

Well, we very comfortably fitted seven in the frame and as you can see the picture is great.

conf cam group.jpg
I made Skype calls over fixed broadband and over a Mi-Fi mobile connection and both times the clarity of the video came across very well, with an expected reduction in quality over mobile.

Any negatives?

You can connect the device via a power socket or an additional USB cable, meaning that there are two sets of cables running from the ConferenceCam. 

It's the type of gadget which I'd want plugged in all the time so it's ready to go, but with the increasing amount of gadgets on the everyday work desk, finding that extra power socket or USB port can be a nightmare. It would be useful if the device was powered by a single USB cable - but it is by no means a major fault of the product.

Jabbar incompatibility

We spoke to a fellow user of the ConferenceCam, Jonathan Villasan, who manages a telepresence system in New York. He tested out the ConferenceCam on Skype, Google Video Chat and Jabber Video for Telepresence. It's worth noting that while he found the same great results on Skype and Google, the Jabber video conferencing system was unable to use the ConferenceCam's full zoom and panning functions. Villasan informs us that Logitech are looking into this. 

He said: "Despite the issues, overall we still find the BCC950 to be useful for our environment because it still solves a lot of issues for our PC users. Namely the convenience of having the built-in speakerphone and microphone to mitigate feedback (big issue for us), flexibility in placement relative to a fixed webcam, and having a wide-angle lens helps so users don't have to 'squish' to get in the picture.

"Currently we are using it in one of our affiliate hospitals where our medical students do their clerkships. Each clerkship has a lecture every eight weeks and having this deployed lets our students participate at their assigned hospital so they don't have to travel (50 miles) back to campus."

Living room conferencing system

Keeping in mind the topic of flexible working, a device like this could potentially be used in the home, thanks to its lightweight nature.  David Maldow, Human Productivity Lab analyst and an associate editor at Telepresence Options, also tested out the ConferenceCam recently. He managed to create a living room videoconferencing system, using his television screen, a laptop and a VGA-DVI cable.

"This is the first time I have been able to use the biggest piece of glass in the house for videoconferencing, it was very easy to set up, and affordable," said Maldow. "You may not purchase the ConferenceCam with this purpose in mind, but if you own one you might want to try this out because it is pretty cool."

Thanks to the ConferenceCam's compact size and elongated "neck", he found that the eye contact using the device was close to natural, while the placement of the camera didn't distract from the conversation. 

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Four years in the making: The best of the best.

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karate-kid2.jpgHaving created this blog and nurtured it for the past four years, I've decided to put the best blog posts/videos from the best on one page.

Diary of an outcast: Apple's Special iPad 2 Event
I will start with my favourite post, the infamous Apple event. I had been invited to Apple events before but somehow started getting missed off the list. I hate Apple so it was no surprise that they didn't want me there. Safe to say that after this post not only was I missed off the list but Computer Weekly never received an invite from Apple ever again.

iPhone Vs N97
This was the first big video project that me and David (video editor) put together. At the time I was so happy that I'd got the N97 I decided to make a video pitting it against the iPhone while mocking Apple's advertising campaign. Little did I know that the N97 would prove to be the worst purchase I've ever made in my life.




HTC Desire HD Review
David (who stars in this video) and I wanted to do something different and create a cool video review. This is what we came up with.

Sadly once we started recording David (and the department he worked for) were made redundant. It didn't effect the video but it wasn't a happy time for us. Having cleared out his desk he set up at home the next day to finish it. This was our last hurrah and the last video I made. Very proud of it.




What is the best mobile OS around?
At this point, no one wanted to be in any of my videos. The company was starting to cut back on them and so I tried to play four roles with four outfits and a moustache before I got told that what I was doing wasn't a productive use of my time. Honestly, how could they say that?

This video used to have a voting element that has since been removed because we couldn't afford to pay for the server the flash sat on.

The most ambitious video we ever tried.





Video: The future of business cards, I'm not taking the Poken
There was a girl I was desperate to go out with at my work. I needed to do a video to have a reason to talk to her but the only thing I'd been sent was a Poken. No phones or cool gadgets. Somehow I persuaded her to help me make this video. We're still together :)




Video review of the wiimote like Gyration Air Mouse
This video is pretty much when I realised that I can be funny. What people don't realise is that filming didn't take long but discussions between David and I on what was funny took forever.

He would stand there saying "That's not funny" every time I cracked a joke or did something stupid. Or one of my favourite lines of his was "You might think that's funny, but it isn't".




Video: Palm Pre vs the iPhone - The big debate
I had 2 weeks before Christmas to do a video armed with my wit and a white wig that was left over from a very bad 'Back to the future' spoof I'd made where I played the Doc. That video was so bad that the company we producd it for sent us a letter saying that if the video ever saw the light of day, they'd sue my a** off. 

David went on holiday with a week left of editing/filming to do so I didn't have anyone to tell me that what I was saying wasn't funny and some of the editing is a bit off. It's still a good video but we felt it was rushed.




Video: I heart iPad - Dating website matches man to iPad
What do you do when you get your hands on an iPad before the UK release? Write a review. Then what? Make a video about having a special relationship with it. Yep, not sure why.



The HTC and Google story: A love affair and a tragedy
Lord knows what compelled me to write this. Had I taken more time to craft it, I think it could've been great but when I read it now I feel it's rushed. Still good, where the idea came from I'll never know.

Video: Flip Mino HD review
This video took 84 takes. For no reason at all I couldn't stop laughing during recording. We got in trouble because it was meant to take a couple of hours but took almost two weeks.

Video: Zeemote review - Is this the future of mobile gaming?
I did this video because Zeemote said that they'd give me a free phone if I reviewed it. So...

GeeklyWeekly Sexy Halloween Special
Wow, how bad is this video? It doesn't even have anything to do with gadgets!!

Cisco brings HD video calling to the US

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umi.jpgTelepresence. Now that's a word we haven't heard much since the 90s... Looks like science fact has finally caught up with science fiction though as U.S. electronics company and heavyweight VoIP provider Cisco announces "umi"  - a device and service combo they're calling a "home telepresence system".

In layman's terms it's video calling, through your telly.

Umi, pronounced "you-me", has some pretty impressive specs. There are two parts - a set top box which is, basically, a dedicated computer and a separateTV mounted camera. With up to 1080p video, it'll plug directly into any HDMI TV. The resolution scales dynamically, based on available bandwidth. Built in microphone and speakers pick up your words of greeting and send them over the ether via the Internet to your Umi owning friends and family. Alternatively, you can connect to PC users as long as they have a web cam and Google Video Chat.

I don't know about you, but I've never felt quite comfortable with video calls - either on my computer or mobile (and Faisal's views on the subject are just a couple of blog entries down the page) - but this seems like a distinctive step up from the poxy, pixelated video calling we've all been used to. With HD quality on your flat screen TV, we can imagine this being a much more immersive, engaging experience. If it works.

Of course, it ain't cheap. $599 for the kit and $24.99 a month for the service subscription. And it's not available in the UK. In fact, the only real reason we're blogging about it is to say "Ooh, look at that. Cool".

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