Businesses throughout the UK and Europe should soon be able to reduce their travel costs thanks to improvements in the quality of teleconferencing made possible by a grant of almost €2.5 million from the Information Society Technology (IST) Programme of the European Union’s Fifth Framework Programme (FP5).
The VIRTUE (Virtual Team User Environment) project concentrated on improving the quality aspects of video conferencing and the results look set to revolutionise future technology. The VIRTUE Team developed a semi-tele-immersion system where life-size 3D video images of the upper body combine with real-time images, in a shared virtual environment. This enables users to gesture and interact much more naturally than other video conferencing systems allow.
"Imagine you are at a meeting table with people spaced around in front of you” says Michael Jewell, project co-ordinator for British Telecommunications, the lead partner in the project. “You are able to communicate with them effectively as if they were sitting next to you in the same room; in fact, you are led to believe they are present in the same room - but they are actually in several remote places. For many types of meeting this high-realism telepresence conferencing system will replace the need to travel. VIRTUE will make this happen in Europe."
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