Beam Me Up, Scotty

By Heather Baldwin

Picture yourself in the back of a cab on the way to an important meeting when — oh no! — you encounter a major traffic bottleneck that even your expert cabbie can’t find a way around. Rather than curse your luck and phone your boss to say you’re going to be late, however, you pull out your HP iPAQ Pocket PC and join the meeting via video conference. Attendees can see and hear you on the computer monitor in the meeting room and you can see and hear them on your handheld device.

Sound like something out of a Star Trek episode? Sure it does – but the technology is now very real. Nexian, a mobile communications provider headquartered in Korea, just introduced the first video-teleconferencing product for a handheld computer. Called NexiPhone, the technology provides two-way voice and video conferencing. It works exclusively with HP’s iPAQ and users must purchase a NexiCam digital camera and the NexiPhone software, which now come bundled for $199.99. Then it’s simply a matter of flipping over the camera, launching the NexiPhone software from the program menu, and voila – you can beam your voice and image to a recipient with Microsoft’s NetMeeting on his or her desktop. If the recipient has a Webcam, you’ll be able to receive that person’s image and voice, too, says Richard Kim, vice president of Nexian. “This is the only technology out there that will let you beam your image and voice through a handheld device,” he says.

Could this be a cure for the meeting blahs, enabling sales reps to attend a meeting while walking to their next appointment or cheering at their kid’s soccer game? Probably not, says Kim. The technology works best if you can connect to a high-speed Internet environment because of the modem. Without that connection your image will be sent slowly – possibly slow enough to be a distraction. And while real Star Trek fans may have visions of two remote users holding a meeting via two iPAQ handheld computers, Kim says the technology works best between one iPAQ and one desktop computer. For more information, visit www.nexian.com.