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Teleconferencing gets easier

Polycom is hoping to overcome teleconferencing's reputation for being complex and unreliable by combining its hardware with...

Polycom is hoping to overcome teleconferencing's reputation for being complex and unreliable by combining its hardware with automation software to eradicate both problems, writes Eric Doyle.

Polycom has developed Polycom Office to try to make teleconferencing as easy as possible. The system allows several users to connect simultaneously via a personal iPower link, a group conferencing Viewstation or a normal phone (audio only). All members of a proposed conference can be selected and called automatically by the controlling software.

The PC-based console can also "find" anyone who has been scheduled for a meeting but is away from their desk. The call is routed to a land line or mobile phone, and they can either return to their office or join the conference in audio-only mode over the telephone link. Because the system allows data and application sharing, they can also receive and share data through a laptop with a modem link.

Dale Bastian, UK managing director of Polycom, said, "We have finally arrived at the place where we are able to deliver the vision of combining voice, video, data and Web conferencing on a single platform in a way that is more user-friendly than before - almost like using a telephone. Apart from business conferences, we also see a possibility of using the system for telemedicine applications and distance learning at a price point under £10,000."

Bastian said PC hardware is now at the point where video-based Web conferencing is a feasible option. This cheaper form of communication can be achieved using conventional computer technology in conjunction with the iPower camera. He suggested this would suit work groups where collaboration is a daily requirement.

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