Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) unveiled Wednesday its umi telepresence, an at-home video conferencing system to be used on consumer’s high-definition televisions.
Cisco umi allows users via a broadband Internet connection and existing HD televisions to chat with others around the country over a clear HD video system.
At $599, the product represents the home version of its existing TelePresence videoconference system for businesses. It will was available on Cisco’s Web site for pre-order starting Wednesday, and will include a $24.99 monthly fee that allows unlimited calls as well as video messaging and storage.
The product, which comes equipped with an HD camera, console and remote, automatically adjusts to lighting conditions and room sizes. The camera allows users, from the comfort of their couch, to zoom in and out of the video.
Once connected to consumer’s HD televisions and Internet line, the remote control allows users to easily access an on-screen interface, where they can manage contacts, access video messages and make calls.
Users can also record their own videos on the system to be uploaded to various social networking sites, can chat with non-umi users via Google video chat and receive video message notices via text on their mobile phones.
While other video communications programs like Google video chat and Skype are currently offered at home to users, the umi consumer product marks the first of its kind with its HD video, interface and HDTV connectivity.
“Cisco umi will bring the unique telepresence experience into living rooms and change the way we are able to be together with family and friends,” Cisco CEO John Chambers said in a statement. “We envision a future where technologies like this will play a role in connecting consumers with businesses to enable the delivery of new services, ranging from education, to health care, to financial services - to the home.”
The world’s biggest network equipment maker is currently working with Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) to bring umi to Verizon FiOS customers early next year. Having already successfully conducted several trials of the combination, Verizon would be the first service provider to offer the telepresence.
The company is also working with Best Buy to bring umi to Magnolia Home Theatre stores this holiday season.
Cisco is kicking off a major marketing campaign this fall to enable consumers to experience umi, including its use on The Oprah Winfrey Show, advertising campaigns featuring Juno and Inception star Ellen Page, and mall tours starting in November.