In the briefing room: HP SkyRoom

A knowledge worker who is seeking to get a colleague’s input has myriad options available.

Can you see me now?

Can you see me now?

He can send an e-mail, fax or scan, share a screen, use Web conferencing tools, use a Webcam, use a telepresence solution, or simply invite the colleague into his office to take a look. Each of these options carries with it a potential disadvantage, ranging from lack of physical proximity to lack of an ability to share live images and show fine detail.

Indeed, collaborating with co-workers has become more complicated as knowledge workers have spread themselves across the globe and technological solutions have multiplied.

It is of course possible to share static screenshots of slide decks or documents and even live video via instant messenger clients, although this can be limited in terms of image quality. Often the most useful way to quickly collaborate with a far-flung colleague is to combine video chat with sharing part of one’s screen to simply show a live image of the work in question. There are many options, from the low end with Skype screensharing to the high end with advanced telepresence solutions.

But what about a high-quality video solution for the everyman?

With SkyRoom, HP is addressing that need. SkyRoom is a video conferencing system for up to four participants that allows users to select a portion of their screen to share. This is useful for limiting sharing to a document, slide show, or design being worked on while keeping the rest of the screen private. Meetings are initiated via a buddy list with presence indicators to show who is available, just as with an instant messenger client. SkyRoom also integrates with existing deployments of Jabber and Microsoft OCS.

The quality of the image is excellent and the system supports streaming of high definition content. In the demonstration we participated in, there was no discernible lag time; indeed, an engineering simulation that was shared between two computers over a wireless connection was crisp and looked identical to the original.

SkyRoom is a significant improvement from an entry-level solution such as Skype’s screensharing function and offers security features that make it a viable option for the enterprise. Although others in the meeting can’t participate actively, i.e. someone viewing an engineering simulation can’t make changes to it, the solution is nonetheless an effective way to collaborate on projects from the comfort of one’s office, without having to gather colleagues for a face-to-face session.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

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