UPDATED 12:15 EST / OCTOBER 06 2010

Cisco Dives Head First into Home Telepresence, Launches umi

Cisco’s confirmed its goals around telepresence and home entertainment and communications tools, with the introduction of a new product, Cisco umi telepresence.  It works by connecting an existing HD television and internet to power video teleconferencing in the home, for business or personal use.

The set comes with an HD camera and console, as well as a remote.  From the on-screen interface, you’ll be able to make phone calls, access messages, manage your contacts and customize your profile and account settings.  From this dashboard you can also record your own umi videos, which can be readily shared across the social web (Facebook, YouTube, email, etc.).

Umi will be availble for pre-order starting this week, and will be for sale in Best Buy stores, for the suggested retail price of $599 with a monthly fee of $24.99 for unlimited ūmi calls, video messaging and video storage.

The first umi options will be available for Verizon users early next year, and th two companies have been testing umi over Verizon’s 100% fiber-optic network.  It’s necessary to have a vested interest in the infrastructure of such a tool, considering Cisco’s brand recognition and the HD video capabilities that will need to be incorporated into umi.

“Cisco is bringing people together, driving new video experiences that change the way we communicate, connect, and enjoy entertainment – in the home, at work, and on the go,” said John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco. “Cisco ūmi will bring the unique telepresence experience into living rooms and change the way we are able to be together with family and friends. We envision a future where technologies like this will play a role in connecting consumers with businesses to enable the delivery of new services, ranging from education, to health care, to financial services – to the home.”

It builds on Cisco’s existing telepresence tools and experience, marking another move into the general consumer base.  It’s a direction Cisco’s been hinting at a lot lately, with a number of product announcements and releases designed for telecommuters and the like.  One great aspect of umi looks to be the fact that its communication isn’t limited to other umi users, but can be used in a range of ways for outside webcam tools.  For Cisco, this is a space that has tons of potential room for growth, even as Skype encroaches on the same territory.  In fact, just prior to launching umi, Cisco lost one of its executives to Skype.

Some additional feature specs of Cisco’s upcoming umi:

  • Users enjoy amazingly clear and lifelike full HD experience.
  • An existing HD television and a broadband Internet connection are all that is needed.
  • Cisco ūmi is easy to set up and simple to use – users can be together at the touch of a button.
  • Video calls can be placed and received on any computer with a webcam and Google video chat.
  • Users will never miss a ūmi call with video messages.
  • Cisco ūmi videos can be created and then shared on Facebook, YouTube, or email.
  • Video messages can be checked on-the-go with a laptop.
  • New video message notices arrive via text on a mobile phone.
  • From the comfort of the couch, users can pan the room and even zoom in to get up close and personal, or pull back to include the whole family.
  • Privacy features like call screening and blocking, and a camera shutter that closes, keep users in control of their privacy.
  • Personalize with a unique video greeting, ringtones, and calling favorites.
  • The stylish design is a perfect match for the living room and HD television.
  • Cisco ūmi telepresence product video, executive comments, and press event footage will be available for satellite downlink on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010, 1700-1800 EDT:
    • Galaxy 16 C-Band
    • Orbital Slot: 99 degrees West Longitude
    • 9 MHz Bandwidth MPEG 2 Digital
    • 4:2:0 Chroma Profile
    • Transponder 10, Slot A
    • Downlink Frequency: 3886.5 MHz, Vertical Polarization
    • Symbol Rate: 6.1113 msps
    • FEC: 3/4
    • Vyvx/Level 3 Steele Valley TOC: 800-922-4424

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