LONDON/ESPOO – So today we got our first chance to play with Halo,
Nokia’s new internal “tele-presence” solution. It’s designed so people spend less
time traveling whilst still collaborating with those they should be
collaborating with. If you follow me. It’s a bit like video
conferencing. On steroids.
Phil Brockbank is Nokia’s IT man making this happen and he joined us in our conference between London and the team in Espoo to tell us more about the studios, where they came from, how they work and what it’ll be like in the future.
Now, we use video conferencing every day (a bunch of us work remotely) so the concept is nothing new. But, we were all blown away by what Halo can do. The room itself looks like a conference room cut in half. Where the other half would normally be is instead a wall of plasmas (four, for the detail nuts). Connecting two rooms (there are 25 Halo suites in Nokia currently, with more being rolled out) is a cinch and when hooked up, the other room shows up on the plasma wall. Simple as that. Except, there’s more.
Up to four locations can conference at any one time, effectively meaning you can have a truly global meeting in real time. The picture is stunningly clear and sharp with virtually no delay – it does really feel like the people you’re talking to are sitting in the next room (albeit behind a glass wall).
Cameras in the room enable you to share close ups – we were able to read the text on the screen of an N95 8GB in Espoo, from London – and you can share presentations or documents simply by plugging in your laptop.
The really cool bit though (as if all that wasn’t cool enough) was when Charlie dialed in from his N95. Using 3G and the video camera on the phone, Charlie was able to join in (in a pretty pixelated way) and what’s more we all showed up on his ‘ickle screen. Plans are in place at Nokia to connect regular meeting rooms with a more basic teleconferencing system so they can then plug into the main Halo system. Users will also be able to dial in from home using a PC client. Just imagine, you’d never have to go to the office!
Of course, the big bonus with Halo is that employees no longer need to get on a plane to meet someone on the other side of the world. Using Halo they can genuinely have a discussion as if they were in the same room. It’s that good. This is a good thing for the company, but an even better thing for employees who no longer need to spend time getting to and from airports and dragging through security.
There’s more to the Halo story than just using it though, so we’ll be following up with some more posts over the next couple of days to explore where Halo has come from, where it’s going and why the hell the team picked Halo in the first place.