As far as rumors go, Cisco’s video conferencing set-up meant for the general consumer has been at the top of the list for a few months now. Cisco has finally come forward with an official announcement today, pulling the curtain off their brand new HD video conferencing system, now called Umi. As far as hardware goes, you’ll have a couple of things set up around your TV, but that’s a small price to pay for being able to talk to your loved ones on your TV.
Cisco decided to go with a 1080p autofocus camera, and you’ll have to make use of a separate set-top box as well. According to Cisco, the Umi system will let you make full 1080p video calls with 720p/30 recording. But, if your bandwidth isn’t working with you on a given day, the system has a fallback to 720p/480p. The camera itself features a glass lens, auto exposure, and an optical zoom. There’s also an auto white balancing feature, too.
And, just in case you have some moments where you need a bit of privacy, or just want to get away from pesky people video calling you all the time, there’s a motorized privacy shutter. As a bonus, it looks like Cisco has made the Umi system compatible with Google Voice and Video Chat, but on the other side of the coin, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be free to use. You’ll have to pay for an “Umi service plan” to take advantage of the HD video calling system. Check out the full press release below for all the details.
About that service plan? According to Cisco, it will cost you $24.99 per month/$275 annually. And, as a little side-note, Cisco has confirmed that they are looking towards Apple to offer up some FaceTime integration, too. And the system will cost you $599.
Cisco umi Brings Family and Friends to the Living Room at the Touch of a Button
Home Telepresence Product Delivers Amazingly Clear and Lifelike Video Get-Togethers Through Existing HD Televisions
SAN JOSE, CA–(Marketwire – October 6, 2010) – Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) today introduced Cisco umi™ telepresence, a first-of-its-kind consumer product that brings family and friends together in HD video, whether they are around the corner or across the country. Cisco umi connects to an existing HD television and a broadband internet connection to create a video communications experience that is so clear, natural and lifelike, that users will see and hear their loved ones, right down to the twinkle in their eyes and the tone of their voices, as if they were in the same room.
Cisco umi, which includes an HD camera, a console and a remote, takes advantage of Cisco’s heritage in business telepresence, to deliver an immersive video experience that fits into every home, automatically adjusting to lighting conditions and various room sizes to provide superior video and audio performance.
Once Cisco umi is connected to an HD television and a wired or wireless broadband connection, a remote control provides access to an on-screen user interface, through which users can make umi calls, access video messages, manage contacts, and customize their profile and settings. Users can also record their own umi videos, which they can share on Facebook™, on YouTube™, or via email. Users can even keep in touch with people who don’t have umi by placing and receiving video calls from any computer with a webcam and Google video chat.
“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 umi 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.”
“Cisco umi is the ultimate way to capture the simple joys of being together with our distant friends and loved ones, whether they are around the corner or across the country,” said Marthin De Beer, senior vice president of Cisco’s emerging technologies business group. “From singing happy birthday every year to reading bedtime stories every night, umi lets friends and families experience life’s special moments together.”
Cisco is also working with Verizon to bring the umi experience to Verizon FiOS customers early next year. The two companies have been conducting successful trials of Cisco umi over Verizon’s 100 percent fiber-optic network, which delivers what a 2010 PCMAG.COM reader’s survey rated the fastest Internet speeds in the United States.
“Verizon’s high-IQ networks are incredible incubators of innovation that connect our customers to the things and the people they care about, how and when they want,” said Eric Bruno, vice president, of consumer product management at Verizon. “We plan to be the first service provider to offer Cisco umi to our customers, delivering an amazingly clear and lifelike experience that brings family and friends into your living room.”
Cisco is working with Best Buy to bring the Cisco umi experience to Magnolia Home Theatre stores this holiday season. Within Magnolia Home Theatre stores, consumers will be able to experience Cisco umi, get expert advice on the product and required broadband, as well as purchase Cisco umi, with installation and support provided by The Geek Squad.
Cisco umi Key Features and Benefits
Users enjoy amazingly clear and lifelike full HD experience.
An existing HD television and a broadband Internet connection are all that is needed.
Cisco umi 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 umi call with video messages.
Cisco umi 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.
Opportunities to see Cisco umi
This fall, Cisco will kick off a major marketing campaign that will offer many opportunities for consumers to see the umi experience:
“The Oprah Winfrey Show” will bring people together on the show via Cisco umi.
A national advertising campaign featuring Ellen Page, the star of “Juno” and “Inception,” will feature Ellen and her friends using umi in their everyday lives.
A Cisco umi mall tour begins November 10 and travels to more than 20 major malls across the United States, during which consumers will be able to experience live umi demonstrations.
Pricing and Availability
Cisco umi is scheduled to be available for preorder on October 6 from umi.cisco.com and October 18 from bestbuy.com. It is scheduled to be available to consumers on November 14 in Best Buy/Magnolia Home Theater stores, bestbuy.com and umi.cisco.com for the suggested retail price of $599 with a monthly fee of $24.99 for unlimited umi calls, video messaging and video storage.
John Chambers discusses the impact of new video experiences like Cisco umi
Cisco umi video overview
Cisco umi photos and images
Visit The Platform blog to learn about Cisco umi
Check out the CiscoHome blog for knowledge from Cisco’s umi experts
Search #ciscoumi on Twitter for real-time updates on umi
“Like” Cisco umi on Facebook and enter to win a system for you and a friend
Additional information on Cisco umi™ telepresence
Visit www.umi.cisco.com for information on how to pre-order Cisco umi
Cisco umi b-roll: For product footage and Cisco executive commentary, visit www.go-cvs.com/ftp (click on the “check mark” icon on the lower left. The username is cisco-broll, and the password is cscobrollshots. Click Home-Telepresence folder to access Cisco umi b-roll.
Cisco umi telepresence product video, executive comments, and press event footage will be available for satellite downlink on Wednesday, October 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
Vyvx/Level 3 Steele Valley TOC: 800-922-4424
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