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HP's SkyRoom brings telepresence to the desktop

HP has unveiled SkyRoom, a desktop-level video conferencing system that allows real time sharing of rich media.

HP SkyRoom

HP has unveiled SkyRoom, a low-cost flexible telepresence system for the desktop.

HP said the $149 SkyRoom "hits the sweet spot inbetween" expensive but high quality telepresence rooms and free but unpredictable online tools.

SkyRoom is as easy as using instant messaging, HP claimed, and can import buddy lists from IM clients so users just click a name to be connected making it easier to use than telepresence, which needs to be scheduled.

Jeff Wood, the marketing head for HP workstations, said at a press conference at Intel's Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco that SkyRoom was as easy as making a phone call or starting an IM conversation.

Developed in HP Labs, SkyRoom offers real-time, rich media application collaboration, which means users can share streaming video, 3D applications, and more without the choppiness of some free systems.

"The secret sauce is a high def codec that we can use to take inforormation from the source system, highly compress it and send it over a standard network and redisplay it at the remote sites," Wood said. "This codec has been used by Nasa to send images back from Mars for the Mars rover programme."

During the IDF demo, the HP spokespeople held a conversation over video conferencing, with shared video running on one desktop and a 3D rendering running on another.

The system can be used to conference in four people, and runs on Windows XP or Vista using standard hardware. Applications running on desktops can be shared, and the video conferencing can be expanded to full screen mode. SkyRoom is available for download today from the HP website, and will be included free on HP Workstations, while other HP notebooks and desktops will get a free trial.

Click here for more news from Intel Developers Forum 2009.

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