The difference between Video Conference, Telepresence and Immersive Telepresence

October 28, 2012 by Christopher Isak 17 Comments »

Have you been wondering what all this is about?

There has been a lot of change in terminology in the video conferencing / telepresence business. New technologies were introduced and legacy technology was still kept and is still being developed. In this article I would like to explain my point of view even though usually every organisation uses different terms.

Cisco, Immersive, Telepresence, Video, Conference, Videoconference, Business, Communication, Example, live, Action,  Men, Women, Man, Woman, Presentation, Screen, Triple, Camera, Cameras,

Video Conference

Video Conference (or sometimes written videoconference) is the most common term for video communication. It replaced the term “videotelephony” which was somewhat redundant, even though we will meet the “tele” segment again. A video conference is the form of any communication using image and audio of two or more locations, exchanging data in real-time and in all directions at the same time. Private video conferencing solutions such as Skype also find their home in this category but are not industry standard.


Telepresence is the “new term” for video conferencing. However most people would agree that the term telepresence includes only high-end codecs that support high bandwidth and provide HD resolutions. To be exact even we can break down the term into the two segments “tele” and “presence” so we are talking about being present in a remote location. And even though it is not really related to video conferencing entirely this also include the robotic telepresence or telerobotics.

Immersive Telepresence

If telepresence systems are set up in a concept to provide a high degree of immersion  those solutions are called immersive telepresence. The degree of immersion defines how much the users  feel like the remote site is actually sitting at the other end of the table in their room even though they might be continents apart. In order to provide this a very complex rule set has to be followed on the design of all participating rooms. If only one of the “illusions” are broken it will not be immersive any longer.

Opinion of the People

In reaction to this article becoming very popular with people looking for a comparison of telepresence terms we have started a poll to find out what the most preferred term is. Vote and check the results here.

Introduction Video of the Cisco TX9000 Immersive Telepresence Solution

This post is also available in: German

  • amedar consulting

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  • >Video Hippie

    Fantastic! Query “What is the difference between video conference and telepresence?” in Google and voila its all here!

    Gentlemen this one is the right one!

  • Anonymous


    • Mark

      I certainly hope that these signs keep tdnnrieg toward web conferencing becoming the standard form of communication for small businesses. This means great conveniences for both employees and employers. It means talent recruiters will hopefully decide to use web conferencing as a way to interview larger numbers of prospects in shorter periods of time. That kind of sensible efficiency means that many of us can save money on the fuel you use going from one fruitless interview to another. I just hope companies will have the common sense to get past all their internal red tape and time wasting procedures to adopt efficient ways of operating. I’m quite sure I speak for many people.

  • Rob

    Why are there always changes to names?

  • Tara Tolchin

    This is a nice posting. I am going to spend more time exploring this issue.

    • KyungSoo

      I am glad to hear that the signs are all pointing to smlaler businesses finally catching up with the big boys when it comes to web conferencing. It is nice to see the prices start to go down to the affordable range and the more products available. I would bet that the larger businesses will be glad to see this as well because now they can switch products and users and software and be able to get the lesser price, saving them more money in the long run as well because you know the saying the rich keep getting richer, well this is how that happens. Great post with lots of great news for the little guy, keep up the good work.

  • The VC Smurf

    IMO the most important difference between immersive and non immersive telepresence solutions are: Eye-contact! Yes or no??

    By the way telepresence on smartphones and tablets and coffee cups will never ever be immersive – as there is absolutely not degree of immersion when looking into a screen at the size of your hand.

    Not even the smurfs would be immersive that way.

    Tricky marketing boys and girls though for such a niche technology..

  • Marvel Lantagne

    We’re a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your website provided us with valuable info to work on. You’ve done an impressive job and our whole community will be thankful to you.

    • Igor

      I think that the growing trend of web coencrfneing is more likely to continue to grow in the business sector much more so than on the consumer level. This is because when given the choice, most people are still camera shy for various reasons and they opt not to use video as a method of communication. Many people are less than confident about the way they look on camera and the fact that you look ten pounds heavier on camera doesn’t exactly motivate people to engage in video coencrfneing. That is why I say it is more suited for business applications such as when it is necessary for meetings, but then again, some business people prefer the telephone and a phone conference. It’s just more private and anonymous.

  • Anonymous

    Good article and makes sense

    • Aakash

      I am not surprised at all that small busniesses are using this web conferencing more and more what does surprise me is that larger companies aren’t using it more than they are. Web conferencing can save a company thousands upon thousands of dollars in just a very short time, in travel expenses alone. It can also save them money in training courses as well. The more advertised the web conferencing becomes the more they are going to start using it and before you know it there will be no more on-site business meetings and no business travel taking place because money is getting so tight anymore no one can afford it and if this election doesn’t get some big changes in place we are not going to see an improvement any time soon in the economy.

    • Basheer

      There is at least one benefit to this griwnog trend in the use of web conferencing services. An IT project manager told about how she recently led a teleconference when one of the participants who was working from home accidentally dropped his unmuted phone in the toilet. In the middle of the conversation, they could hear his heavy breathing and then all of a sudden, there was the sound of a splash, followed by Oh s ! Just a second! Oh God, this is disgusting!’ The entire meeting stopped as the guy desperately tried to fish his phone out of the toilet, dropping it in again as his headset came unplugged. Eventually, the splashing and swearing cut out as the phone submerged. On second thought, if people can participate in web conferences via their mobile devices, well, then we still won’t be safe from this type of blunder.

  • Sam Nguyen

    Excellent hints.. I am going to follow your Feed from now.

  • Yank Dines

    good stuff to show difference among these competitive topic

    • Christopher Isak

      Hi Yank

      Thank you for your feedback.
      If I can ever help you further on any question just let me know.

      Have a nice day!

      Best regards,

  • Johny No-need-to-reply

    For a clear overview on what videoconferencing / telepresence means this article helped me a lot – thanks!

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