Feeds

Cisco takes us back to the future

Like the crash (before this one) never happened

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Retailers themselves can look forward to telephones with screens - yes, real colour screens, onto which head office can display urgent product recalls and suchlike to stores that lack a computer. Quite how many chain-store branches don't have a single computer in the place - or how many chains are interested in fitting smartphones into every store - seemed unclear. However, Cisco retail specialist Cindy Etsell was adamant that the XML-based notification system would remove the need for computers and thus revolutionise retailing.

Next up was public services, with a demonstration of automated CCTV monitoring using software that could recognise the shape of a human and sound an alert when one crossed a virtual line. Questions as to whether individuals with boxes over their heads could be recognised were dismissed with a laugh - so clearly terrorists won't think of that. A demonstration showing how the system could spot an abandoned suitcase had a case of the fails when the case in question was left in the wrong place for the system to spot.

Getting terrorists out of their box

More practically noteworthy was a Wi-Fi box that automatically finds the best connection - 3G radio, WiMAX, or whatever is available. Still, this is much closer to the company's core competency, so it should come as no surprise that it's quite good at it.

The Visual Quality Enhancement (AQE) also plays to Cisco's strengths, even though it's clearly a consumer technology and built on the company's acquisition of set-top box specialist Scientific Atlanta. The premise is that compressed digital loses frames, especially when squeezed over an ADSL connection, but using AQE the set-top box can connect to a server and request the missing frame be resent, while playing out its 200ms buffer. The results were impressive, though Cisco will have to convince operators that it's worth buying when the temptation might be to just throw bandwidth at the problem.

Speaking of bandwidth-hurling, Cisco reckons it's created usable telepresence by building half a meeting room and fitting three huge plasma screens on which to display the other half. With clever technology to cut out mobile interference, and 5Mb/sec of bandwidth being used for each screen (two of which were displaying the empty parts of the room, at least during the demo), the experience was compelling and could save money for companies which are spending enough on air fares to pay for 15Mb/sec of bi-directional bandwidth.

Cisco is only taking its first steps into the consumer space, and is still deciding if it wants its recently redesigned logo to appear outside the server rooms and racks where it's a trusted brand. But it's clear that the company has a lot to learn about what normal people want, and can only impress when getting down into the networking technologies for which Cisco is best known.

Cisco apparently spent more than $4.5bn - 13 per cent of its revenue - on research and development last year. Hopefully not all of it was on recreations of retro visions of the future - it does make pretty good routers, and it would be a shame to forget that in the wash of nostalgia. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Cray-cray Met Office spaffs £97m on VERY AVERAGE HPC box
Only 250th most powerful in the world? Bring back Michael Fish
UK.gov pushes for SWIFT ACTION against nuisance calls, threatens £500k fines
DCMS seeks lowering of legal threshold to fight rogue firms
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
The DRUGSTORES DON'T WORK, CVS makes IT WORSE ... for Apple Pay
Goog Wallet apparently also spurned in NFC lockdown
Microsoft brings the CLOUD that GOES ON FOREVER
Sky's the limit with unrestricted space in the cloud
'ANYTHING BUT STABLE' Netflix suffers BIG Europe-wide outage
Friday night LIVE? Nope. The only thing streaming are tears down my face
Google roolz! Nest buys Revolv, KILLS new sales of home hub
Take my temperature, I'm feeling a little bit dizzy
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.