On October 1, 2007 LifeSize, the Austin High Definition company announced the release of LifeSize 3.0 which enables 6-way voice activated switching and 4-way continuous presence as well as an SDI Adapter to enable high definition video playback or recording by a 3rd party camera.

Beefing up the multi-way bridging capability is useful in the classic video conferencing setting where one monitor might show only one of three other sites at a time, relying on voice activation to determine which site to show to the other sites. This is a feature driven from the standard definition type platforms and has been a part of these systems for some time.

I've not yet tested the LifeSize version of this feature but I can tell you that from personal experience, the switching from one room to another is distracting, slows down the meeting and the system can be easily confused for example when everybody laughs.

I would recommend more attention be focused on providing functionality consistent with the immersive telepresence setting, where the monitors are pretty much dedicated to one or two persons. This is a close approximation to the meeting setting that would happen should users be face-to-face. There's no screen jumping, just clever furniture arrangement, clever audio pickup (one vendor suspends the microphones from the ceiling), solid lighting controls and the simplest of user interfaces.

 However, the complexity of bridging this way is shown below. n streams of video need to be broadcast to n x (n-1) streams. This can present engineering and bandwidth challenges to the owner of these rooms that the equipment provider must address.


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