Telepresence is broadly speaking next generation videoconferencing that also takes into account users' position, actions and voice to render as close as possible a representation of a real life meeting.
Many products exist today that, although they are based on established protocols including ITU-T H.323, lack interoperability due to proprietary extensions.
Telepresence represents an important evolution of the videoconferencing market. Standards fuelled interoperability between systems is seen as a key way to drive the market. The trend is expected to accelerate, as mainstream video applications begin to offer telepresence features.
Malcolm Johnson, Director, ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, said: "We don't expect each end of a phone call to be dependent on the manufacturer of the phone being the same. The same should be true for telepresence. Anyone who has used a telepresence system will testify to its remarkable quality, it truly is the next best thing to a face to face meeting. However proprietary solutions have stifled the market. ITU's standards initiative will allow us all to profit from this remarkable technology."
Specifically the new work will focus on standardizing full interoperability between telepresence systems, including facilitating the coherent presentation of multiple audio and video streams so that participants show correct eye contact, gestures etc, to give a more real life like experience.