It's invaluable for meetings where participants are scattered around the country--or even around the world--but there are some limitations to teleconferencing, namely not being able to see the body language of the participants. St. Paul, Minnesota-based product manufacturer 3M takes teleconferences to the next level with its new line of user-friendly remote meeting products.
The 3M Videoconferencing System VCS3000 takes advantage of a fast 128 Kbps ISDN line to provide high-quality video images as well as audio-only teleconferencing via analog lines. A built-in Web server allows users to share PC-based graphic presentations (which can be displayed at the same time as the video feed by using the picture-in-picture window feature) as well as perform remote diagnostics of the unit. Unlike many higher-end units, the VCS3000 doesn't require technological expertise to operate. Setup is automatic, and the user interface is easy to understand. Priced at around $6,000, the VCS3000 supports all major audio and video standards.
Another 3M product designed to make meetings a little easier, the Ideaboard IB3000 ($4,299) may resemble a common wall-mounted whiteboard, but it's actually a porcelain-coated steel surface that uses laser scanner technology to digitally capture anything written or drawn on the board with standard dry-erase markers. The information is automatically saved to a PC and can be displayed and edited when used with an electronic multimedia projection system, such as 3M's MP8620 ($5,995). Meeting notes can also be distributed to participants over a LAN or via e-mail.
3M, (800) 328-1371, http://www.3M.com