Cisco(s csco) has bought a Danish firm called Assemblage for its skills in wrangling browser technologies like WebRTC for real-time collaboration that don’t require the user to download any programs or plugins. Assemblage currently offers a range of tools including Kollaborate (for videoconferencing), Presentation and Same (for screen-sharing), and says it will continue to do so for now. In a blog post on Friday, Cisco — purveyors of expensive telepresence equipment that plays in the same space — said it was after the startup’s engineering prowess and third-party integration record.
Double Robotics’ iPad-eqipped telepresence robot is the first beneficiary of the $25m fund Grishin announced earlier this year. His cash will help Double ramp up manufacturing, which will be useful as early demand has been high.
Don’t have the $2.5 billion budget that Nasa spent to design, build and launch the Mars Curiosity rover? For a fraction of the price you can virtually be in two places at once thanks to telepresence robots for every budget, including those using iPads or smartphones.
Got an old netbook? For a $225 Kickstarter pledge, you can turn a netbook into a telepresence robot, remotely controlling it over from a web browser or a smartphone. Over a web connection, you could even use the Oculus robot to speak with remote workers.
Cisco’s move into living room video conferencing with its Umi product never got going, hampered by a high price and competition from free alternatives. Now Cisco has confirmed that it is no longer selling the consumer telepresence gear, though it will continue to support existing users.
Video conferencing startup Vidyo is known primarily for low-cost telepresence systems that compete with the likes of Cisco. But a set of APIs and an upcoming program through which partners can develop and exchange applications could give a boost to its white-label video conferencing business.
One of the major drawbacks with traditional room-based telepresence installs is that systems from different vendors are typically incompatible with each other. Video conferencing and online meeting provider FuzeBox, makers of the Fuze Meeting service, announced Fuze Telepresence Connect, which hopes to overcome these interoperability problems.
Telecom giant Alcatel Lucent’s research and development arm Bell Labs is hoping to replicate the feeling of in-person, natural communication with a fascinating concept it calls Immersive Communications. It uses “mixed reality” to insert the video feeds of real people into customizable artificial environments.
Video conferencing company Polycom is moving upmarket by agreeing to buy the assets of HP’s Visual Collaboration business, including its Halo Products and Managed Services division, in a $90 million deal that will put Polycom in more direct competition with Cisco
Cisco’s entrance into the consumer telepresence market hasn’t gone as smoothly as it had hoped, so it introduced new, lower-priced Umi products and lowered the price of the service. Unfortunately, the new pricing will do little to make Cisco’s consumer video chat offering into the mainstream.