If you work in the corporate world, you may have used a high end video conferencing system before. In the past few years, Cisco has been selling a VERY high end version of video conferencing and branding it “Cisco Telepresence.” Well, Cisco is now rolling out a consumer version of Telepresence called Umi. I saw a demo of Umi a few weeks ago at a local mall in San Jose and it looks pretty neat. The YouTube summary describes this particular use case in the commercial that I saw:
See how Cisco Umi brings a family together for a special celebration. Now distance will never come between you and your grandma’s birthday. See how one family in China surprises grandma with a special visit on her big day. And how the new together can make any occasion surprisingly magical.
Considering that Umi isn’t currently being sold in China and is only available in the U.S., maybe the intent is to reach Asian Americans (who after all, are the most broadband Internet connected demographic in the United States at 80%). Personally, I am not sure how successful Umi will be given the fact that it costs $599 for the extra equipment (HD camera, set top box, remote control, etc. – buy one unit, get the other “free”) and an extra $24.99 a month service fee on top of having to have at least both users to have an HDTV and a broadband connection (buy one at $599, and get one free). I mean, Skype is *free* and being incorporated into more HDTV’s. Of course, the quality is not as good on Skype, but you really have to want to see your family and friends in full HD and in real-time to really splurge on Umi!