Saw these in this month's PC Pro:
Public TelePresence - Cisco Systems
Want one. Unfortunately, we don't have stacks of money to spend on the very latest high-definition screens, cameras, microphones and network connections. The most I have is a spare PC, a cheap (£20) multi-head graphics card, some special-offer 22" screens (£150 each), a number of cheap (£15) webcams with integrated microphone, some USB sound devices off eBay (£5) and Skype. It strikes me that that should, theoretically, be enough to set up a telepresence "suite" as pictured - basically some screens at the other end of the table to where you are sitting at this end of the connection, so it looks like the other half of the table is the remote location. It should be possible to combine the footage from three cameras into one all-round image, and the same with sound. Anyone tried anything similar?
Looks like you would need six active video channels - 3 a side - and would probably want to be doing the image frameing in hardware as a software compound of three video streams in real time would be a nightmare.
You can setup an opensource video conference switching system with this: GNU Gatekeeper - a free VOIP Gatekeeper for H.323 and connect to it with a H323 client like netmeeting. Probably better off with the linux clients though as netmeeting is discontinued. You can download a Vista compatible version from MS but it is a hassle.
Using your own switching system would allow for multiple channels and would provide a more direct route between the source and destination.