Dubai hospitality and conference facility Jumeirah Emirates Towers has invested in state-of-the-art high definition videoconferencing technology manufactured by US-based LifeSize.
The new multi-screen videoconferencing system enables participants to be displayed simultaneously. While the system has been installed in Emirates Towers' Biz Pod Business Centre, the device itself is portable, allowing it to be used in different venues and meeting rooms throughout the hotel.
In its full configuration, the system features two 42-inch LCD panels co-located above a HD camera with a 70-degree viewfinder, which can capture delegates sitting around a standard medium-sized boardroom table.
Delegates can connect with up to four other remote systems at a time, allowing a five-way video conference supported by a table-top conference telephone.
"The idea is to replicate reality as closely as possible," explained Julian Kraft, director of information technology at Jumeirah Emirates Towers. "We call it telepresence; we try to make the room feel like the other people are actually there."
Jumeirah plans to trial the system in conjunction with key clients before considering further investments in the technology.
"We want to showcase this technology in order to see if there is greater demand," says Kraft. "We we will then consider making additional investments in these products."
The system can be configured to deliver video feeds to either one or both of the LCD screens. In the former case, the second monitor can be used to display Powerpoint presentations or other electronic documents. The system also includes an HD projector for large-screen presentations.
"[A central conference telephone] is fitted with 16 microphones to provide complete audio coverage in a boardroom meeting environment," Kraft explained, adding that the venue's boardrooms had recently been fitted out with the latest conferencing technology. Jumeirah also plans to invest in handheld remote control panels in the future, Kraft added.
Delegates can stream video broadcasts from PCs or other sources from anywhere in the world via the internet. Jumeirah also provides clients with on-site technical support around the clock.
Kraft conceded that the current ban on voice-over-IP technology in the UAE effectively limited the capabilities of system, but hoped that the Telecommunications Regulation Authority's (TRA) long-mooted review of these regulations would enable the organisation to integrate VoIP services in the future.