Vague, fuzzy terms may be good if you’re in marketing or politics, but those of us who have to build things and make them work like our concepts a bit more crisply drawn.
That’s why we at Seamless Enterprise took pains to come up with a pithy and concise definition of Unified Communications, and why we were interested when we saw in Network World about an effort to do the same with the term "telepresence."
Credit for this definition goes to Howard Lichtman of the Human Productivity Lab. Short and sweet, it is as follows: "Visual collaboration solutions that address the human factors of participants and attempt to replicate, as closely as possible, an in-person experience."
The difference between videoconferencing and telepresence is, essentially, the human factors and experience. As Lichtman went on to elaborate in response to a question about the difference, he noted that one goal of telepresence is to enhance user acceptance by creating a better "meeting" experience, one that does all it can to replicate an in-person meeting.
He added, "Generally, telepresence solutions will also have some combination of the following features: life-sized or near life-sized images, eye contact or the approximation of eye contact, studio-quality sound, acoustics, directional audio, lighting, and engineered environments that achieve a consistency of quality."
Interestingly, he makes the point that telepresence delivers ROI because of its quality. It may be more costly initially, but Lichtman says usage doubles or triples or more when compared with traditional videoconferencing.
So what do you think? Is this the definitive definition for telepresence? We welcome your comments.