As you may be aware, Tesco operates an IT development facility in Hindustan, Bangalore, India as well as in Welwyn Garden City, England.
In order to improve our ways of working and frankly make our Indian colleagues feel part of the team, the Tesco.com HQ building (and several other Tesco sites worldwide) have had installed an outstanding piece of technology called Cisco Telepresence.
Telepresence is a form of video conferencing designed to make you forget (after a few minutes) that you are in fact watching someone on TV! Indeed, the design of the system makes you feel that the the room you are in is twice the size it really is - even the table is half an oval which completes its circular loop on the 'other side'.
The technology achieves this using high definition video pictures across three screens, and high quality audio set up to make sure that each person speaking is coming from the right place in the room, spatially.
The system requires a 15Mbps digital private link, the latest video and audio compression technologies, and an intelligent design of room without too many moving parts (so no windows where moving trees might eat into the bandwidth).
The result: you soon feel that your colleagues are really in the room. If you are sceptical then so was I but believe me you soon lose the 'watching TV' effect within a minute of starting a meeting, and the sound of voices is so realistic (not too much bass or treble) that each person sounds likes they are in the room with you.
Thanks to my two colleagues who didn't mind me barging in and snapping them mid-meeting yesterday!