Beyond Telepresence: The Arrival of Infopresence

Team Oblong

At Oblong, we spend a lot of time thinking about remote collaboration technology. As we develop

The closest word in the current lexicon is telepresence, a term that’s been around since the 1980s. Telepresence was coined by cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky, when he imagined users donning a suit of sensors to control a mechanical device in another room, or on another planet. Users could leave their current context to engage in another. 

It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that a company succeeded in taking telepresence to market. TeleSuite created rooms that allowed executives to attend meetings without having to leave the comfort of their vacation resorts. Of course, they looked nothing like the sensor suit that Minsky imagined, but they did begin to provide remote collaboration. 

Twenty years later, telepresence is still alive. Although there have been incremental improvements by a range of vendors including Cisco and Polycom, it looks very similar to the patents filed by TeleSuite in the mid–90s. Minsky predicted that within twenty years of concentrated effort, his telepresence vision would become a reality, but we still haven’t achieved his vision. 

Like many visionaries, Minsky underestimated the time and resources required to achieve his vision. But Minsky also underestimated the value of combining contexts. There are many situations where it is useful to bring information with you, from one place to another. 

Infopresence goes beyond telepresence to not only transport the user, but also their information. We’ve found that the comingling of information, context, and location within Mezzanine produces an experience that telepresence simply doesn’t describe. And so, Mezzanine doesn’t provide telepresence–it provides Infopresence.

Infopresence is the next stage in the evolution of remote collaboration that began with telepresence. We must adapt our approaches to unforeseeable opportunities. Mezzanine is our adaptation to the realities of working in today’s information-rich world. 

Learn more about Mezzanine™ collaborative conferencing solutions and Infopresence™ capabilities here.

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