What is Telepresence?

Telepresence encompasses a number of technologies and solutions that enable an individual to give the impression of being present and/or elicit the effect of physical presence in a remote location. The concept essentially means creating an environment whereby two or more people can interact in a way that feels like they are all in the same room even when they are geographically dispersed. In this concept, the user can also affect the receiver who is in a remote location. Movements, voice, actions are transmitted and then duplicated at the remote location.

According to psychology, for communication and interaction to be effective, certain elements have to be present. Successful relations depend on eye-to-eye contact. And then there is sound. Communication is an auditory and visual process. It requires the combination of visual and auditory stimuli for it to be even more effective. Sure, you can talk through the phone and listen to the other person but it is more difficult to sense emotions and credibility when you don’t see facial expressions or hand movements.

In video conferencing, you see images – body language, shift in eye contact, that gleam of interest (or the lack thereof). There is a lot of non-verbal cues that people get to detect through face-to-face contact. In a sense, telepresence makes this possible.

It is said that visual cues are even more powerful than sounds. They say a whole lot more than what mere words state. When you talk to a person face-to-face, at some level, you can sense when you’re being lied to or when the other person is presenting the truth. From the perspective of a business owner, personal contact allows them to conduct presentations with clients more effectively. It makes it easier for them to explain concepts through the use of images. People, after all, learn more effectively when they are visually stimulated.

Key Considerations for Telepresence Setup

1.         A life-size image is a key requisite and it must allow upper body arm gestures to be clearly seen. For normal video conferencing, smaller images are acceptable but no less than about 70% of life-size.

2.         A telepresence image of the far-end person must be at table height and the image will reside just beyond that. This is to create an almost real-life experience of a person sitting on the other side of meeting table. Unlike conventional video conferencing where a face appears on a plasma or CRT, it does not convey “presence” of the other party in the same room.

3.         Image quality is usually at broadcast quality (1080p) or even better. The key here is to create an immersive experience that makes video communication as life-like as possible. The usual CIF resolution used for traditional video conferencing will not suffice for telepresence.

4.         Both local and far-ends to have identical furniture room setup. This is to give further enhance visual interpretation so that both parties appear to be physically in the “same room”.

5.         Audio should be free from distortion so that voices sound crisp and clean. Again this is to create the perception of both local and far-end parties are sitting just across each other.

6.         Bandwidth is of great consideration for telepresence. A good telepresence (very smooth video and superb audio) link between two ends will require more than 6 Mbps for symmetrical (upstream/ downstream) link. This is easily more than four times of a conventional video conferencing link.

At SG Videoconferencing, we will actively engage clients in the design and implementation of state-of-the-art telepresence suites. With telepresence, organizations can still conduct their meetings with the ease and convenience of physical contact because their clients still get to see them, their gestures and their presentations as if they are all located in the same room.