DEMO: HP launches inexpensive SkyRoom high-quality video conferencing

hp-skyroomConsumer video chat services are getting ever closer to the quality of enterprise video conferencing services. Hewlett Packard makes the Halo video conference system that delivers wall-sized video conferences with picture-perfect quality.

At the DEMOfall 09 conference this week, HP is introducing a younger cousin of Halo, dubbed SkyRoom. The SkyRoom offers affordable video conferencing with high-quality video and screen-sharing systems that are very easy for rank-and-file workers or even consumers to adopt. It won’t replace the high-end video conference rooms that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. HP says the SkyRoom system is all in the name of enhancing worker productivity in an age of shrinking travel budgets.

HP is starting to sell the SkyRoom software for $149 today. It will include for free on all HP workstations sold, starting Oct. 1. This kind of video conferencing hasn’t been available at this kind of price before. HP says it used both video and image processing technology developed in its HP Labs research unit to make it happen.

Jim Zafarana, vice president of HP’s workstation business, said that HP Labs had technology for remote sharing of graphics objects, such as video and 3-D models. No one else has that kind of ability to share such computationally intensive programs in real time. HP Labs also did the work to make sure that the SkyRoom software could take advantage of multiple cores in the newest microprocessors, which have more than one computing brain in each chip.

Since the SkyRoom software has big advantages in the workstation space, Zafarana said HP is targeting that market first. Hence, the software has features such as virtual private network functionality to protect users who are calling in from remote locations.

You can connect as many as three users at a time. The software updates images on SkyRoom as much as four times a second, or the blink of an eye. You can share rich media, such as 3-D product designs, in real time.