On February 11th, 2014, Polycom introduced a new telepresence product dubbed the RealPresence Immersive Studio. Here is my typical random thought blog on it. Note that I have not seen this in real life, only in pictures so per usual take things with a grain of salt.
It's going to get rough in here...
First, take a gander at Polycom's videos of the product HERE. What you will notice first is up to you, but I noticed that Polycom went big. HUGE. GIGANTIC! Big table, big displays and a big camera that requires a big room.
I am a big ass table
I estimate the table is 18-21 foot long (given my old formula of 27.5 to 28 inches per person and the table being angled somewhat). For fun, grab a friend and a tape measure and separate yourself from him by 18 feet. Now have a conversation. Or at least try. Oh, and don't look at them face to face, just turn your head. What Polycom is saying here is that local conversations aren't that important.
Cameras are not necessary for marketing photos
I'm not sure whose idea it was to have three people on screen. With a camera in the middle of the room and three people on screen, guess where the camera needs to go? It went right in the chest of the person smack in the middle of the room. The better bet would be to put 'ye olde periscope' right in the middle of two people. The marketing video also shows data on the middle screen if you want it. "Hey, move the pie chart out from behind that camera!" In an assumption on my part, the eye line is worse than an OTX (or a Cisco equivalent) because the camera appears farther away vertically from the eyes. Horizontal gaze angle is increased due to a longer table.
Stand up and be noticed - and remain on screen.
It's good (fantastic actually and I'm not being sarcastic here) that they departed from their "Cisco-esque" 3-65" model OTX where your head gets lopped off if you stand up. It's bad though (looking back at their marketing video) that stand up presentations are taking place BEHIND the local participants. Simply not good. What Polycom is saying here is that you can have stand up, but the presenter is only really presenting to the far side. Everyone local will have to turn themselves around and look toward the back wall - or watch the far participants as they watch the presenter. A separate PTZ pointing at a side wall and some creative framing would fix this problem.
From Polycom's marketing material:
"Room within a room design Minimize room design and construction costs"
How many auditoriums do you have in your office? Because that's what it will take to minimize construction cost for an install of this. Also note there is no visible threshold in the photo. Wireless? Maybe. Core the floor? Probably. Marketing photo where real stuff isn't actually necessary? Definitely. My guess is the expectation is to core the floor on the side of the room opposite the entry door. The existing ceiling will need work to accommodate their new style of cloud. Gone are the beams that the RPX has. Returned is the need to bolt everything to the floor above or the ceiling trusses. The ceiling height requirement appears quite high so installation in an older building is going to be difficult. It's easy (relatively) to move walls. The ceiling, not so much. Take a peek above any drop ceiling and you'll know why.
The back wall is now gray fabric wrapped insulation as opposed to the white thingy of the OTX or the fabric wrapped artwork of the RPX. I'm OK with this. That color is fantastic for video and doesn't make the room completely overdone. I never liked the white thingy of the OTX and since I designed the background of the RPX before it was the RPX, it's hard to say anything bad about that (wink wink nudge nudge). Not offering a customer option on the back wall is an insanely smart move. It's spendy and time consuming especially if you are dealing with a company that has strict rules regarding logo usage. The back wall artwork of the RPX was really the only place that customization could happen so people would try their best to dictate how it looked - except when they wanted some silly, non camera friendly color back there.
Note that no back row is shown in the pictures above, but there are pictures on Polycom's website. Gone is the decking of the RPX (I bet the installers love that) and now they are using bar stool height chairs. Good cost saving move here but it does add two styles of chairs to the BOM and you cant' just wheel the bar stools around the front of the table for a local only meeting.
There is a big tv way up there. Cisco's TelePresence product and now this each have the camera and data combo flipped. If you must have data up front, put the camera between between the data and video screens as much as possible. That way you won't be gazing that far off screen, as shown in the Polycom marketing video. Cisco has the camera above and data below the video. Polycom now has camera below and data above. I do believe there are data monitors in the table from the looks of it. That is smart. My eyes can't see data on a far screen and I'm not that old. Yet.
Personally, I think it looks cool, but I'm not sure how many they will sell. I do like big tvs. There are some things that are smart with the design but some things that aren't. Finding a room large enough for this will be an issue for an estimated 100% of the installs. That being said I would buy it before an OTX, RPX or a Cisco equivalent.
Thanks for reading
Bryan, the frustrated room designer and all around fun guy if you don't mind my nit picking