Microsoft shows off prototype camera

Microsoft is showing around a prototype product, called the Ring Cam, designed to make web conferences more like face-to-face meetings. Combined with web-conferencing software that Microsoft acquired this year, remote-meeting participants would be able to view and hear a live, 360-degree image of participants in another location. Few details are known about when products might result from the prototype. A Ring Cam -- actually multiple FireWire cameras -- would stitch together images from its surroundings. Software would isolate the audio and image of whichever participant is speaking, said Amit Mital, general manager of Microsoft's real-time collaboration unit.

That technology likely would be incorporated in Microsoft's Office Live Meeting 2003 service, which is based on products it acquired with the recent purchase of PlaceWare. Microsoft's challenge is to integrate the real-time technologies it's developing -- instant messaging, presence awareness, team workspaces, and now web conferencing -- over the next several years, Mital said. Some IT execs and managers who gathered at Microsoft's Californian campus to see the first public demonstration of the concept were at least curious about the trial balloon.

News source: iTnews

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