Microsoft’s RoundTable

Microsoft’s RoundTable is a unique high-end video conferencing system. The RoundTable features a 360-degrees, panoramic view of the conference participants using five built-in cameras, allowing users from around the room to communicate verbally and none-verbally. Mobile, easy to use, and with a relatively low price tag for its class (less than $3000), this system could prove to be another success story for the Redmond giant.

Five years ago, Microsoft Research began developing the concepts and technology on which RoundTable is based. The device was tested at various campuses around the world, and by Microsoft’s companies in the framework of their Technology Adoption Program (TAP). The users’ feedback was used for further development of the device.

The RoundTable device can be connected to a standard PC. It works both with Office Communications Server 2007 (OCS 2007) and with Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2007. At the RoundTable’s base is an LCD touch screen used for dialing, as well as buttons with different functions, such as speaker volume control Since the device is not much bigger than a traditional speaker phone at its base, and because its so easy to operate, one of RoundTable’s advantages is that it doesn’t need to be confined to specially configured meeting rooms.

In addition to providing a panoramic view, the RoundTable tracks the flow of the conversation, recognizing the person speaking at any given moment and eliminating any none-related background noise. This is achieved by using six microphones to locate the speaker, and then focusing one of the cameras on him, thus isolating the dominant sound and allowing everyone to better concentrate on the content of what is being said.

More information on the RoundTable can be found on Microsoft’s official website.

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