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how do I put the human element into the virtual office?

We are considering a third location for our company but we have two key support people who have alot of interaction with employees each day in this office - one in particular, Sandy would be moved to the 3rd location and we don't want to lose that relationship.  Is there a product or suggestion on how to perhaps have a webcam/audio link (two way) sitting in that new 3nd site office that displays on a TV or moniter in the home office and also displays in Sandy's office?  Example:  when home office people walk by,  they can stop at Sandy's virtual desk and have a quick conversation or even hold up a document that Sandy can see at her end - allowing them to touch base right then?  
We currently have a 2nd location out of state so we are set for all the hardware of share servers & sharepoint.  But we have found that without the easy casual "face time",  the 2nd location is not really part of our day to day life.  That is keeping us from seriously considering a 3rd location even though it makes alot sense as gas prices keep rising.  So -  we want to virtually see Sandy sitting there and we want Sandy to see us walking over to her 'virtual' desk.
Thanks for any ideas.
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North_Side
Asked:
North_Side
1 Solution
 
roylongCommented:
The functionality you want would be available as a kind of telepresence system.  But what you are talking about would be rather expensive from the likes of cisco - who just bought their closest competitor tandberg (Market leading telepresence solutions).

You could do it on the cheap with a desktop computer hooked up to a 24 to 30 inch monitor at each end - invest in a couple of kick a*s webcams (or even wired HD video cams) and them run a permanent skype connection at each end... ...in fact I might just try that myself next week to see how it performs...
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North_SideAuthor Commented:
Can you let me know if it works for you next weekend?  That certainly makes sense to me and it is the 'out of the box' economy solution I am looking for!
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TelepresenceCommented:
Cisco offers the exact thing you're looking for, they have it setup in their campus in San Jose at the EBC, and use it throughout.  Problem is for a one of its a very expensive proposition.  If you have an existing Cisco voip deployment it may be feaseable.
I've recently looked into some sysetms from "lifesize".  They seem to be a very good alternative when cost is a big part of the equation.  What I like about them is that their codecs have many functions built in the more expensive systems don't, you can purchase any display you want, and you don't need to revamp your entire network.
In any case, if you want to go with the home grown solution, any HD webcam connected to a computer with a big screen at both ends is all the HW you need to get it going.
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