What is Telepresence?
Essentially, telepresence allows people to be effectively present without the hassle of travel. A conference call is a typical form of virtual presence: whether it is an audio or video conference, it gives the feeling of presence to the participants. The quality of presence differs based on how much information is provided to the participants. If it is only an audio connection, the presence awareness is very small as participants do not have visual contact. Visual contact is, of course, present in video conferences, but participants still do not have a strong sense of realism, which requires the extra dimensions of eye contact, body language, spatial audio to distinguish direction of voice, and natural image size to simulate a life-size image of the participating person. A telepresence system incorporating all these aspects offers conference communications with a high audio-visual experience, giving the participants a strong sense of presence and the feeling that all participants are sitting at the same room around the same table.
A telepresence system consists of dedicated hardware and software, linked using sufficient bandwidth to provide high throughput of HD audio and video information from multiple items of equipment. Participants appear in life size on large TV screens; HD cameras are capturing video from different angles; and microphones are recording audio from different positions. Robotic arms with cameras are also used for tracking different people and places to capture different additional objects like whiteboards, demonstration equipment or additional audience. Furniture and lighting conditions in telepresence rooms provide an environment where conference calls simulate a real-life environment and participants lose the feeling of multiple physical locations.