I love the term "wormhole" to describe the kind of persistent videoconferencing that I think will really be a game-changer for business.
Some firms are buying enhanced videoconferencing systems that allow remote workers to join meetings and share notes, data or sketches with ease, imbuing conference calls with Hollywood-style lighting and sound.
Others are installing video screens dubbed "wormholes" or virtual windows, so that far-off teams appear to be working side-by-side. Firms are also installing meeting areas with seating configured in a horseshoe shape so that workers attending via videoconference appear to be sitting in the same room.
I think the key capabilities that would enable a real office "feel" would be:
- Persistent connection. The system needs to be on all the time and facing your coworkers. If they're not there, then you can glance up from your desk and see that. You don't need to schedule a call or turn the system on to interact, it's always on.
- Reduced latency. Video chatting now is awkward because of the >500ms latency. That's got to get <100ms for it to feel natural. This can be achieved with modern technology, but may require some dedicated systems. (I.e., you may not want to send your packets over the general internet.)
- Wide-angle cameras and displays. You don't want the system to feel like a collection of 1-on-1 discussions (like the Tandbergs are now). You want the interactions to be many-on-many. If you've got three systems connected, you need to position the screens and cameras so that when A talks to B, it appears to C as if A is looking towards B. This kind of "facing" algorithm will be hard to extend to 4+ systems.