HALO Collaboration Studio - a new dimension to real-time communications

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December 13, 2005 Technology struck another blow against the tyranny of distance yesterday when a first-of-its-kind collaboration studio for simulating face-to-face business meetings across long distances was debuted. The new HP Halo Collaboration Studio is a precisely-designed broadcast solution that enables remote teams to communicate in real time in a face-to-face environment. Participants can see each other in life-size images projected on three studio-quality displays with no perceived latency, regardless of how far apart the teams may be. Halo allows for interactivity between teams and enhances business connections while visually reinforcing the sense that meeting participants are in the same room. The product of yet another cross-pollonation of perspectives, Halo Collaboration Studio came to life in a partnership between Hewlett Packard and DreamWorks Animation SKG. While we’d love to say it’s available at a price affordable by every home, that’s still some way off. In smaller quantities, the rooms are approximately US$550,000 each, and pricing falls as the same company purchases more rooms. In the United States and most global business centers, the network and service fee is US$18,000 monthly per room. This fee varies in other countries depending on local telecommunications costs.

The HP Halo Collaboration Studio enables people in different locations to communicate in a vivid, face-to-face environment in real time. Whether across a country or across the world, users are able to see and hear one another's physical and emotional reactions to conversation and information as it is being shared. By giving participants the remarkable sense that they are in the same room, the Halo Collaboration Studio is already transforming the way businesses such as PepsiCo, Advanced Micro Devices and DreamWorks communicate across the globe. Halo significantly increases team effectiveness, provides faster decision-making capabilities and decreases the need for travel.

Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president of the Imaging and Printing Group at HP, and Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive officer of DreamWorks, officially unveiled the collaboration studio in New York City.

"The HP Halo Collaboration Studio enables remote teams to work together in a setting so life-like that participants feel as though they are in the same room," said Joshi. "To create this experience, HP is harnessing its expertise in color science, imaging and networking in this new category of innovation. It's something we believe will not only disrupt the traditional video conferencing market, but will also change the way people work in a global market."

Early on in the production of the animated film Shrek 2, DreamWorks realized a significant return on investment using the Halo technology. By connecting its California teams in Glendale and Redwood City, DreamWorks was able to speed up many aspects of the production.

"In 2002, while we were producing Shrek 2, we realized that DreamWorks needed face-to-face collaboration between key creative talent in different locations," said Katzenberg. "We weren't satisfied with the available video conferencing systems, so we designed a collaboration solution that would fulfill our needs. HP took the system and turned it into Halo, which is now the only solution on the market that allows this kind of effective communication."

The HP Halo experience: A new dimension of executive collaboration

Unlike any other communication tool on the market today, the HP Halo Collaboration Studio is a precisely designed broadcast studio that contains all the components necessary to enhance business communication.

To connect via Halo, organizations purchase at least two Halo rooms set up for six people each. There are three plasma displays in each room that enable participants to see those they are collaborating with in life-size images. The rooms come equipped with studio-quality audio and lighting and participants use a simple on-screen user interface to begin collaborating with just a few mouse clicks.

An intricate software control system ensures Halo rooms work easily and seamlessly together. The control system also provides precise image and color calibration, so participants see each other as they appear in real life. A dedicated HP Halo Video Exchange Network provides a high-bandwidth experience with imperceptible delays between Halo studios worldwide.

To ensure a 24x7 connection and eliminate the need for enterprises to manage the operation and maintenance of a Halo room, services offered include network operations and management, remote diagnostics and calibration, concierge, equipment warranty and ongoing service and repair.

Participants can easily share documents and data directly from their notebook PCs with individuals in other rooms using a collaboration screen mounted above the plasma displays. The rooms also contain a high-magnification camera that enables individuals to zoom in on objects on a table, revealing the finest of details and color shading, and a phone that opens a conference call line to those not in one of the Halo rooms.

"We believe there is a personal connection that comes with Halo that just clearly doesn't come from any other kind of technology we've used in the past," said Steve Reinemund, chief executive officer, PepsiCo. "Halo is one of the best investments we've made to improve the effectiveness of our business and work/life balance for our people."

Improved time-to-market with HP Halo Collaboration Studio

While using the Halo Collaboration Studio to produce Shrek 2, the creative process at DreamWorks remained undisturbed because color-critical artwork could be approved between sites using color-calibrated, high-resolution HP platforms. Using the Halo rooms, the technical knowledge that brings a computer-generated image to life was shared by each site involved. Halo makes it possible for DreamWorks to marshal the best talent available and bring them together to produce some of the most successful animated films.

PepsiCo installed HP Halo Collaboration Studios at its three main U.S. headquarters in Chicago, New York and Plano, Texas. Prior to using the Halo rooms, executives frequently traveled between the three cities for internal meetings. Since it began using Halo, PepsiCo's travel solely for business between these locations has been substantially reduced and in some cases eliminated. This results in quicker decision-making speed, greater overall productivity, lower expenses and improved quality of life.

Microprocessor design and manufacturing firm AMD gains similar benefits from the HP Halo Collaboration Studio at its Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters, and Austin, Texas, facilities. AMD increased the frequency, speed and quality of executive interactions with Halo, and it nearly eliminated the need for executives to spend an entire day traveling between locations for meetings.

HP has 13 Halo Collaboration Studios installed at its facilities worldwide. The rooms are improving the quality of life of employees, partners and customers as they are able to conduct business more efficiently and spend less time in airports and on planes.

Availability and pricing

The cost of the HP Halo Collaboration Studio solution varies depending on the number of rooms purchased. In smaller quantities, the rooms are approximately $550,000 each; pricing falls as more rooms are purchased by the same companies. Network and service fees in the United States are US$18,000 monthly per room. These fees vary in other countries due to cost differences.

Halo Collaboration Studios can be installed anywhere in the world customers want them. The only limitation is the availability of adequate fiber optic circuits. Halo Collaboration Studios are currently operating in numerous locations throughout the United States as well as London, Singapore, Barcelona and Rehovot, Israel. HP, through its financing arm HP Financial Services, is offering a 48-month financing payment plan in which U.S. customers would pay less than $30,000 per month per HP Halo Collaboration Studio room, including network and service fees. The plan includes the flexibility for customers to add on more studios and upgrade existing technology as business needs change. Additional monthly payment plans are also available for 36-month and 60-month terms.

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