FuzeBox Links High-End Videoconferencing To iPads, PCs

Adding flexibility for online meetings and videoconferences, Fuze gateway connects high-end telepresence systems to iPads, Android tablets, PCs, and Macs.
Cisco Umi
Slideshow: Cisco Umi Takes Telepresence To The Home
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FuzeBox is extending its high-definition video collaboration platform to stretch from iPads to room-based teleconference systems from other vendors.

Fuze Telepresence Connect is a telepresence gateway for H.323, SIP, and H.264 that links high-end telepresence systems to iPads and Android tablets, as well as PCs and Macs. Introduced Wednesday, the gateway is offered as an Internet service like FuzeBox's Web meeting service. FuzeBox already allows customers to host HD videoconferences, and in March it released software to allow iPad 2 and Android/Honeycomb tablets to participate in Fuze videoconferences. Now Fuze Meeting users will also be able to connect to telepresence sessions from Polycom, Lifesize, and Tandberg (with support for Cisco to follow in about a month), according to FuzeBox.

Telepresence is a high-end form of videoconferencing associated with room-based systems with HD monitors and high-end sound systems designed for a "just like being there" experience, but because of the expense of such setups they tend to be limited to a few installations for top executives. FuzeBox is one of several vendors aiming to deliver a high quality--but much more affordable--experience, and it takes advantage of the same Scalable Video Coding protocol as another upstart, Vidyo.

"We don't sell hardware or room-based systems, but we do interoperate with them," FuzeBox CEO Jeff Cavins said in an interview. Some large companies have invested millions of dollars in videoconferencing equipment, but they can get more mileage out of those investments by taking advantage of FuzeBox's cloud computing service. "We're using the cloud as a huge supercomputer that in real time transcodes real-time stream broadcasts from all these different systems," he said.

The videoconferencing service is cloud-based but does require a software download to deliver the kind of bandwidth control Fuze Meeting requires to adapt to changing network conditions and maintain high-quality transmission, Cavins said. Fuze Meeting provides a Web interface can be used for presentation, screen sharing, and collaborative annotation of on-screen images, and those capabilities can also be used as part of videoconferences.

"Fuze Telepresence Connect has the potential to change IT investment strategies as more enterprises look to expand the potential of existing solutions while layering on the ability for mobile collaboration," Bradley Shimmin, principal analyst at Current Analysis, said in a statement.

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