Videoconferencing reaches down

PictureTel has launched a television set-top videoconferencing unit.

PC-independent videoconferencing has become a reality with the launch last week by PictureTel of its SwiftSite set-top videoconferencing product.

David Lardinais, managing director of PictureTel Australia, describes it as “a totally new business product--not a product line extension; not a group videoconferencing or desktop system.”

SwiftSite transmits voice and video (15 frames/s at 128Kbit/s) data over ISDN lines and sits on top of any PAL or NTSC television set for display. It has a built-in camera that can pan and zoom and can be controlled by a video-recorder-like remote control from either end of the call.

SwiftSite also features an intelligent array of microphones to automatically nullify background noise. It does not, however, include PictureTel’s Limelight technology to automatically move from speaker to speaker in a conference situation. Instead it can be pre-programmed to focus on different subgroups by push-button control.

Ease of use and portability are the key points of appeal for the product, with it weighing in at under 5kg. Lardinais sees applications for the technology in geographically dispersed offices, training, franchises and customer service centres and is aimed at a new body of users outside the traditional conferencing market.

System software upgrades are available by dial-in and the unit retains the immediate past version for backup and SwiftSite is based on industry standard software and can communicate with desktop and group videoconferencing products.

SwiftSite has a recommended retail price of around $16,000 ex GST and is available from Blue Star Office Automation, Business Communication Solutions, Dynamic Communications, New Technology, Video Conferencing Solutions and The Business Centre.

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