Teleflirtation: The latest hot way to hook up

Private instant messaging heats up video conferences

The realistic audio-visual atmosphere of telepresence combined with off-channel instant messaging is giving rise to a new social phenomenon dubbed teleflirtation.

When strangers of the opposite sex are given the chance to meet face-to-face on high-definition telepresence gear and messaging is also an option, they tend to write personal notes to participants at the other sites, says Charles Stucki, vice president and general manager for the TelePresence Solutions Business Unit at Cisco.

A main audible conversation goes on among the participants, but some give each other the eye and shift to text-based interaction, he says -- teleflirtation.

Recently Stucki checked in with officials at New York University who had installed Cisco telepresence gear on its campus and connected with another campus in the United Kingdom. Students were allowed to use the gear to meet with random groups at the other end to see what use they would make of the technology, he says.

The students exhibited other unexpected behavior. For instance, Cisco initially created telepresence rooms so their lighting, furniture and wall colors matched to enhance the illusion that participants were in the same room. It turns out that the students would rather know where their counterparts are located than pretend they are in the same place, he says.

When given a mirror, the participants would hold it up so the telepresence cameras would shoot images of something other than the conference tables they were pointed at -- the rest of the room, out a window and so on. They would also ask each other where they were located and what their names were.

After establishing these basic parameters, they would move on to performing a common task, Stucki says.

They also liked overlaying other information on the main telepresence feed, such as captions that summarized what was being said, as a way to make transfer of information more efficient, he says.

Experiments like the one at NYU and experiences of customers have altered some of the assumptions Cisco started out with when it first got into telepresence, he says. For example, one main idea was to project images of participants large enough that they seemed to be life size. That limited the number of participants to six or so.

But it turns out that the most used telepresence rooms are those that handle large groups, so Cisco is coming up with configurations to accommodate 18 and recommendations on how to make large meetings productive. "Figuring out how to make group dynamics work is super important," he says.

With vendors coming out with high-definition teleconferencing for individual users, it is possible for a person to join a telepresence session by himself, but that changes the dynamic as well, Stucki says. Some customers report that if participants in a group room know a lone participant is located in the same building, they ask that person to come over to the same room.

Other practical findings include the importance of keeping latency low so people don't talk over each other. It's also important to frame participants to show their upper bodies, not just their heads. Otherwise people on the other end can't read their body language, something that adds to the quality of a telepresence call, he says.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tim Greene

Network World
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?