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December 21, 2009

BrightCom to Play Key Role in 'Local Area' Telepresence Research Survey

By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor

With technological advancements such as telepresence and video conferencing readily available to most businesses today, it’s a wonder why people still endure long traffic delays and cope with rising gas prices to meet for in-person meetings.
That’s the very topic Mohja Rhoads, a University of Southern California PhD student, plans to explore as part of a new empirical study on telepresence technology. Rhoads is working with BrightCom, a Huntington Beach, California-based provider of telepresence and video conferencing services, on the research project.
As part of the effort, Rhoads is looking into several paths regarding human behavior, telepresence and video conferencing technology and how each contributes to the need for travel. The study will explore the physical, social and managerial issues that the technology presents and how people can overcome them. Rhoads will survey BrightCom customers about how they are using the technology to reduce travel and what problems they experience with the technology.
Specifically, Rhoads will focus on local area travel, such as traveling from Los Angeles, Calif. to San Francisco, Calif. Even though the cities are located in the same state, it can often take employees hours to navigate California’s congested highways and airports, Mark O’Campo, Vice President of Sales for BrightCom, said.
“[Telepresence (News - Alert)] is a big time saver,” he said.
Rhoads, who is pursuing her PhD in the field of planning, said she is interested in finding out how telecommunications services can substantially reduce travel locally or for long distances.
While telepresence won’t replace the effectiveness of in-person meetings, the technology’s ability to offer face-to-face contact adds a personal element that can’t be achieved though conference calls or e-mail. In addition, telepresence offers instant communication and aids decision-making, brainstorming and relationship building that is crucial businesses’ success.
“Telepresence isn’t going to be appropriate for every single exchange of information,” Rhoads said. “It’s important to find out the optimal balance and what types of media are more prevalent for different types of exchanges.”
“The results of this type of survey are very critical,” she said. “If you are looking to create reasonable solutions for transportation problems and pollution problems, this is one of the things can do. I am not only interested in creating solutions to regional transportation problems… but also streamlining business operations.”
O'Campo said the research would give the company a new perspective.
“We’re here in the industry and we think we know everything,” he said. “I welcome people like Rhoads with new ideas to give us a gauge as to if we are building the right technology for the industry. Does what we are providing make sense and how can we do a better job? That is what I am hoping to get out of the study.”
As the holiday season continues, studies of telepresence and video conferencing can also prove beneficial for recreational travel and family gatherings as local and long-distance travel increases this time of year.
BrightCom would like to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season. 

 To find out more about BrightCom, visit the company at ITEXPO East 2010. Scheduled for Jan. 20 to 22 in Miami, ITEXPO (News - Alert) is the world’s premier IP communications event. BrightCom CEO Bob McCandless will speak during “Technology Innovations in Video Conferencing” at 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 22. Don’t wait. Register now.

Aaron Sipper (News - Alert) is a telecommunications consultant. To read more of Aaron's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney

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