Slideshow: Telecommuting from Your Couch
Who needs home telepresence? Not everybody, certainly. But why shouldn't a home-based knowledge worker see her home office as analogous to a corporate office: You've got your desktop, where you do your work on productivity applications that your company runs on--but, when you've got an important meeting with a high-profile client or partner, you go to the place that's optimized for high-end video. For the home-based worker, it's not a conference room; it could be her living room.
Different vendors are approaching home telepresence with different solutions. Cisco's is the recently-announced umi, which basically rachets the company's signature Telepresence down to consumer scale in terms of price--about $600 for equipment and $24.99 a month in service subscription. The implementation is also consumer-focused--i.e., a Cisco appliance runs the solution and connects to the user's HDTV.
Cisco is pitching this as a product for consumer use, but Andrew Davis of Wainhouse Research, among others, has wondered what, if anything, keeps enterprises from setting up their home users with umi, thus avoiding more expensive enterprise desktop-focused Cisco Telepresence systems.
I mean, look at these people: They could just as easily be your goofy co-workers as your goofy friends from college.
More vendors are offering telepresence for the home. Is this a pipe dream, or is it Telework 2.0?