Of the many companies looking to use AR or VR tech to improve upon the video conference calls we’ve all grown accustomed to, Cisco’s new approach might have the best chances of catching on. A demonstration for a group of journalists earlier this week showed a technology able to capture and transmit a decent hologram. Given that Cisco already sells hefty teleconferencing equipment to many of its customers, that could be enough to give Cisco an edge.
To be sure, Cisco’s Webex Hologram service—first announced last October—is not yet ready for a wide rollout. In the demo led by Cullen Jennings, Cisco’s CTO for Security and Collaboration Business, reporters showed up on a conventional Webex video screen looking, frankly, a bit ridiculous with Microsoft HoloLens 2 headsets clamped on our heads (Cisco also intends to support Magic Leap headsets). The AR demo was strictly one-way: Jennings, seated in front of an unseen prototype array of cameras, could appear to us as an occasionally flickering and distorted 3D projection via the HoloLens headsets, with his audio being piped through the regular Webex call. Meanwhile, he could only see us on video since we lacked our own camera set-ups. But the system is being designed to accommodate immersive one-on-ones and more, so long as everyone has the right equipment.