Menu
Cisco US unveils Umi home videoconferencing

Cisco US unveils Umi home videoconferencing

Cisco has introduced Umi, a home telepresence system that uses existing high-definition TVs and also works with Google Video Chat.

Umi uses a console device, a remote and a camera unit with five microphones that sits on top of the TV, Cisco announced in San Francisco on Wednesday.

US pricing and carriers have been announced.

In addition to talking live with each other, users will be able to show videos recorded earlier. If they miss a call, the caller can leave a video message that can be retrieved on the TV, a PC or a mobile phone. For privacy, there is a shutter on the camera that can be activated, leaving just audio coming from the home.

In addition to buying the equipment and monthly service, users will need to have a broadband service with at least 1.5M bps (bits per second) both downstream and upstream in order to enjoy Umi, Cisco officials said. Those speeds will deliver 720p video. For 1080p, users will need 3.5M bps both downstream and upstream.

Consumers who don't have Umi will be able to participate in the video sessions through Google Video Chat on a PC, at a lower level of quality. No other third-party video services are supported at this time.

Analysts say Cisco's introduction is a big step forward for home videoconferencing, though the short-term prospects for that concept aren't yet clear.

"It takes videoconferencing into the living room, which actually takes it into the mainstream," said Wainhouse Research analyst Andrew Davis.

"I think we're coming into the age where visual communications is not only accepted: it's becoming widely expected," Davis said. Moving it beyond webcams and laptops is critical, he said. "People really want it on the television. They don't want it on the PC."

However, the mass market for this type of high-end product is probably far off, analyst Kurt Scherf of Parks Associates said. Only 20 percent of broadband households use webcams for videoconferencing today, he said.

"If only 20 percent of households have done it with dirt-cheap pricing and easy setup, how many are actually going to do this for a $600 product and a $25-a-month subscription?" Scherf said.

"The target markets for this are made up of specific niche consumers, at this point at least," Scherf said. One of those will be people with elderly relatives who want to not only communicate with them but see whether they look well, he predicted.

Much rides on the product for Cisco, which has been promising consumer telepresence almost since the introduction of the high-definition conferencing system for enterprises in 2006.

"More market research has gone into this product [than] perhaps any other product in the history of Cisco," Wainhouse's Davis said.

Other vendors are also lining up to bring videoconferencing to high-definition TVs. At the International Consumer Electronics Show early this year, Panasonic and LG Electronics announced TVs with embedded Skype software. Panasonic's offering began shipping in May, and LG has said its product would be available by year's end.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ciscointernational news

Featured

Slideshows

EDGE 2018: Kiwis kick back with Super Rugby before NZ session

EDGE 2018: Kiwis kick back with Super Rugby before NZ session

New Zealanders kick-started EDGE 2018 with a bout of Super Rugby before a dedicated New Zealand session, in front of more than 50 partners, vendors and distributors on Hamilton Island.​

EDGE 2018: Kiwis kick back with Super Rugby before NZ session
EDGE 2018: Kiwis assess key customer priorities through NZ research

EDGE 2018: Kiwis assess key customer priorities through NZ research

EDGE 2018 kicked off with a dedicated New Zealand track, highlighting the key customer priorities across the local market, in association with Dell EMC. Delivered through EDGE Research - leveraging Kiwi data through Tech Research Asia - more than 50 partners, vendors and distributors combined during an interactive session to assess the changing spending patterns of the end-user and the subsequent impact to the channel.

EDGE 2018: Kiwis assess key customer priorities through NZ research
Show Comments