Despite sounding like technologies which are similar, there are many differences between telepresence and videoconferencing. It goes without saying that both are important in telecommunications, but they differ in objectives. However, both are effective business solutions. The main areas in which the differences lie are in quality, environment and cost. Let us look at the main differences.
Telepresence usually refers to a setting which is formal, and has good lighting and expensive but simple high-definition video equipment. Telepresence is based on rules and creates the illusion of different locations despite participants being in the same room. The focus is not on the room, but the person. Whereas in videoconferencing, you usually have a boardroom table along with equipment like whiteboards, monitors etc. The user at the other end may not be able to view all the speakers – this depends on the seating arrangements as well as the number of individuals participating. Audio and lighting may not turn out to be refined as expected. Videoconferencing fulfils the objectives of standard meetings, especially when having a ‘quality user experience’ is not a priority.
Everyone knows the difference that HD voice can make in a voice call. Telepresence is indeed a high-quality solution for video teleconferences, and hence comes at a high price. Since it’s been designed to create a great user experience, with distractions like noise being minimized, high video and call quality etc, it’s no surprise that the price should be high. On the other hand, videoconferencing solutions come at a significantly lower price since it offers the basic features required by most. The ability to see the presenter’s screen as well as the sharing of documents is enabled in videoconferencing through file sharing and screen sharing.
As far as quality is concerned, it is easy to see that telepresence is clearly more refined than videoconferencing which is more basic. Videoconferencing may disappoint if you are expecting good video quality. Also, it is dependent on the broadband connection. In fact, this has led to videoconferencing acquiring a bad reputation, especially since it lacks high-quality HD video and voice equipment and a dedicated line. In fact, the development of telepresence began to compensate for the drawbacks of videoconferencing.
Now let’s look at the differences in atmosphere. Bringing individuals together in a virtual setting when physical presence is not possible is the basic objective of both systems. Videoconferencing is definitely much superior to non-video teleconferences, and despite distractions like background noise, it still delivers the basic atmosphere required. However, telepresence goes a step ahead, and successfully brings in more realism to the setting, enhancing the conferencing experience. Furthermore, telepresence does away with some of videoconferencing’s annoying drawbacks, like distractions.
Another area where both systems differ is in compatibility. This is where telepresence suffers from a major drawback. What if you invested in telepresence, only to find out that the individuals that you are trying to hold a conference with do not have a telepresence system? As it is expensive, not everyone may have a telepresence system. Therefore you should consider everything from budget to the parties whom you are planning to hold conferences with, before investing in videoconferencing or telepresence systems.