HP creates Halo effect for videoconferencing

Tech company teams with "Shrek" studio for a system that includes life-size images projected on plasma displays.

NEW YORK--Hewlett-Packard has launched a new videoconferencing product, underscoring its ambition to become a leading player in the enterprise collaboration market.

Dubbed the HP Halo Collaboration Studio, the e-conferencing package encompasses digital visual products and collaboration software tools. It can create realistic collaborative interaction through a color-calibrated visual experience, a key differentiator compared with traditional products, the company said.

"It's something we believe will not only disrupt the traditional videoconferencing market but will also change the way people work in a global market," Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president of HP's imaging and printing group, said Monday at a release event here.

Joshi noted that HP drew from its experience in developing color science, imaging and networking technology, and built the concept for Halo with the help of DreamWorks Animation, the maker of animated films such as "Shrek" and "Madagascar."

According to DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, the animation company first broached the idea to design a new offering because it experienced "great frustration" with existing products in the market.

"We found ourselves (after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001) in a difficult position of having to bring together the right creative designers who were located in different places," he said.

With traditional products, he said, participants in a videoconference could not smoothly hold multiple conversations or share visual images of smaller details on physical items.

Halo currently is available only in one standard configuration. Each room using the Halo system is set up for six people and consists of three plasma displays and studio-quality audio and lighting equipment. Three cameras reflect images on the middle, left and right sides of the room.

Running on a 54mbps T3 line, a typical Halo room is controlled via a centralized software interface that allows participants to switch between rooms and enables documents to be shared directly from their notebook computers.

Participants can see each other in life-size images projected on the plasma displays and use a dedicated

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