LifeSize’s ‘Conference 220’ Telepresence Offers ‘Lifelike Clarity’

The high-definition video communications system uses about 30 percent of the bandwidth of other systems while maintaining high-definition quality video
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As the U.S. government changes from “old-school technologies” into high-definition Internet protocol (IP) video conferencing systems, LifeSize offers a telepresence system that provides viewers with details that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

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As the federal government is working to move all their video conferencing onto IP, each agency’s IT staff is “very concerned about the amount of bandwidth required,” Doug Miller, LifeSize’s director, federal channels, told Government Video. LifeSize Conference 220 is a high-definition video communications system that uses about 30 percent of the bandwidth of other systems, while maintaining high-definition quality video, he said.

LifeSize’s Conference 220 solution provides among the most advanced technology and immersive telepresence experience available, the company says. The system features full HD, 1080p30, 720p60 and 720p30 dual streams to share data and documents, as well as an embedded multipoint control unit, complete with transcoding, according to the firm.

The technology involved with Conference 220 produces images with “lifelike clarity” that enables facial expressions, body language and gestures to transcend geography, says Lisa Khoung, who leads a LifeSize demonstration team. In support of that claim, Khoung points a Conference 220 lens at a $5 bill, the back of which features the Lincoln Memorial. The names of the states are engraved at the top of the real memorial, and those names are reproduced in miniature detail on the $5 bill. However, the names are invisible to the naked eye, but they are visible using Conference 220. “If that were standard definition, it would be very blurry, and we wouldn’t be able to see those details,” she said.

In addition to the reduced bandwidth use and the level of detail provided by Conference 220, the system is designed for deployment beyond the fixed video conferencing suites making it the “next step in telepresence,” LifeSize says.

Not having to deploy Conference 220 in a dedicated room is indicative of its flexibility, says Miller. Conference 220 can be set up in multiple conference rooms with video, or in offices, he said. LifeSize is “able to deliver the full telepresence experience with interoperability, but without dedicating an entire conference room and network to it,” he added.

That has attracted such agencies as the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense, which have been using integrated services packet network (ISPN) systems that provide quality of service guarantees to individual applications. Those ISPNs are expensive and clumsy, Miller said. A network’s quality of service is “very important” to the federal government, along with the “clarity of the images, and bandwidth efficiency,” he said, adding which is why federal agencies are adopting Conference 220.

At least one federal agency has saved money by deploying Conference 220, Miller said. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was tasked with cutting its travel budget by $12 million in federal fiscal year 2012, he said. LifeSize deployed 96 endpoints at HUD, and that has removed those costs from its budget, he said. Agencies that deploy the Conference 220 can see “massive returns on their investment” from reduced travel budgets; as well as from continuity of operations; and in the integration of their current unified communications strategies, he said.

The equipment acquired today by agencies needs to be able to interoperate so the organizations can continue to leverage that equipment for many years to come “without having to say that equipment is now obsolete, let’s put it in a closet,” Miller said. “LifeSize is unique in its interoperability for all of our solutions interoperate with every other standards-based manufacturer,” he said.