Cisco and Taj take Telepresence public

Picture this: You're in Boston this weekend to cheer on the Molesey Boat Club in this year's Head of the Charles regatta. But shock: you forgot you have a presentation to give back home in England. Hop the Concorde? Please. That is so 20th century (and um, not possible, because the Concorde hasn't run in almost five years).In 2008, the solution to your problem could be Cisco's Telepresence.The technology, which arrived in 2006, uses high definition video and audio to link two physically separate rooms and make them look like a single conference room. Fans of the Fox show '24' will remember a scene that featured a Telepresence set-up from a 2007 episode.Since then, the system has been available only to corporations because of its high cost – the setup can run anywhere from $350,000 to $500,000, not to mention the $5,000-per-month network connection. But this week, hotel chain Taj took a step to make it more accessible. It's setting up Telepresence suites in three of its hotels – London, Bangalore, and Boston.At $400 an hour at the Boston location, Telepresence suites aren't the type of thing we'll see people use for fun (leave that to the Telectroscope, which connected New York and London for two weeks this summer.) But for businesses, it's a whole lot less expensive – and better for the environment – than a transatlantic flight. And it might even make meetings a little bit fun.

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