LibreStream: The next funky collaboration tool (or Cisco's next acquistion)

Must confess I found Oliver Marks’ recent contribution to the ‘social media expert’ debate rather fun Fads vs Business Value: Knowledge Management & Enterprise 2.0. Oliver looks back to the pre dot.com bubble burst era when e-learning was all the rage and cockily wryly remarks:

Back then the shiny new idea was that we could share knowledge as never before thanks to the web, and a whole enterprise industry sprung up around ‘elearning’ with ‘learning management systems’ being touted as the cost effective educational source for businesses to enlighten and track employee’s intellectual sophistication.

I found this especially fun as back then I worked in e-learning, most specifically in Cisco EMEA’s E-learning team. Come to the dot.com pop and that e-learning team was reformed. Myself and some colleagues were reformed too, as characters and in roles and we formed a new team we dubbed Communicating@Cisco.

The aim of the team was to enhance comms and to save money and one key way we did that was to heavily promote erstwhile e-learning tools such as the virtual classroom as virtual meeting places. Neat scenario was that meeting online and collaborating via the internet saved money on travelling. it was a novel idea then. The technology we used here was PlaceWare, and interestingly Cisco’s future acquisition WebEx was hardly used at all.

What we did use though was Tandberg and a colleague of mine actively touted ‘video conferencing in a box’ with 2 large and rather heavy Tandberg video conferencing units being carted across Europe to various demos. previously video conferencing hadn’t featured much, the fact that the Tandberg units could do it over IP rather than ISDN and were basically portable made them mobile video conferencing devices. Well sort of, they are rather heavy!

Now of course Cisco recently acquired Tandberg, following on from their acquisition of Flip and before that Kiss. All prime video companies! And I thought of these when a colleague in my current role for a big oil company showed me a Librestream Onsight camera. These things are awesome!

To begin with I thought it was a funky battle-hardened camera – all industrial bounce rubber and spark proof high quality camera for an explosive or otherwise hazardous environment – perfect for use in an oil field in Africa or on a rig in the North Sea. And they certainly do meet that spec. But god do they do more.

onsight-devicesThese things have full wifi video conferencing abilities plus VOIP connectivity. They have whitescreen drawing capabilities on the viewer screen too – see a video, scribble on the back and the person at the other end sees that. They even have IP based remote control.

So what we’ve got then is the essence of the virtual classroom in a camera – realtime sharing, synchronous data – voice, video and graphics. Now if Cisco don’t either acquire this company or the technology and put it in a small consumer device, then I’m a monkey’s uncle. Or am I one already, what can the latest Tandbergs do?

n.b put me down for the first rubber flip video conf boxes. Hmm, Cisco still own the iPhone trademark, I wonder if they’ll want it back from Apple when these video phones get released?!

Ctd….Funky video collaboration II

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