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This is a guest post by Cisco Communications Manager Karen Bruntz. 

When TelePresence was launched in 2006, the idea was to offer a meeting experience where people in two separate rooms could meet as if they were in the same space.

Those rooms could be thousands of miles apart — on different continents, even. And in that room, it would almost feel like people were all physically together.

For those who experienced is early days, TelePresence felt like a game changer.

A ton of buzz and anticipation

In the mid-2000s, there were rumblings and rumors around Cisco of a new meeting technology.

Conference rooms in San Jose, Hamburg, and a handful of other locations worldwide were taken offline. Construction sounds could be heard behind the locked doors.

Collaboration Senior Product Manager Anders Mortvedt shared, “TelePresence was designed for point-to-point calling between two equal rooms. It required a dedicated room, dedicated hardware. It was a fantastic, tailor-made experience. When you make sure it’s the same on both sides, you feel like you’re in the same room.”

A truly immersive meeting experience.

TelePresence was showing up in films and television shows. It was so exciting for employees to see Cisco technology in pop culture. For so long, Cisco had been the plumbing of the internet — always working but rarely noticed.

Way beyond a dedicated room

Conferencing needed to get more flexible. It needed to account for users who were not just in two identical, dedicated rooms.

“We were starting to lose some of the benefits of the immersive studios,” shares Anders. “They were designed to be replicated on the triple screen system at the other end. What do we do if that’s presented on the single screen at the other end?”

And there was still the need for a high-end, executive meeting room where people really have the feeling of being in the same room.

The team had to figure out how to bring the best of both worlds together. So they interviewed roughly 70 customers to understand what was really needed in the next generation system.

“They wanted us to have a more flexible space that’s not dedicated for a single purpose.” Customers wanted a system that works with laptops, huddle spaces, desks, and meeting rooms,” Anders explains.

“They wanted one button to push, multi-point meetings, and to see as many people as possible. Oh, and they wanted the technology to blend into the meeting room environment.”