The demonstrations were held inside Cisco’s telepresence truck (pictured on the right) and focused on smart board integration, personal telepresence units and video portals. The technologies—specifically video-focused telepresence, which allows users in different locations to connect face-to-face in real time—make it easier for employees to communicate with colleagues and committees, and for faculty to communicate with students inside and outside of the classroom. According to Director of Information Technology Support Centers Matt Wynd, the telepresence capabilities are becoming more and more important as the university expands throughout the region.
“As Towson University’s campus becomes less centralized, the conversations surrounding the potential of telepresence have increased in frequency,” Matt said. “The road show included several telepresence scenarios that allowed participants to get a sense of how these technologies could help solve specific communication challenges that the university is experiencing.”
According to Associate Vice President for the Office of Technology Services Jeff Schmidt, the technologies presented at the demonstrations will be of particular importance for programs with remote sites, such as those offered at the HEAT Center in Hagerstown or the forthcoming satellite campus at Harford Community College. The nursing program has already purchased some of the technology, and it’s being considered for inclusion in the Towson City Center building recently leased by the university.
The roadshow was attended by approximately 60 guests who each have a stake in campus technology. The demonstrations enabled them to experience the telepresence capabilities in a way that would otherwise only be possible at Cisco’s headquarters, several hours away from campus. Matt says that such an experience is an invaluable part of understanding the technology.
“One of the great benefits of having the Cisco telepresence road show visit campus is that immersive telepresence technology is difficult to form an opinion about unless you are able to actually participate in a demonstration,” Matt said. “Even the term ‘immersive telepresence’ can only really be appreciated when potential users are given the chance to experience it in person. We are fortunate that Cisco provided us that opportunity.”