Canvas targets feds with application-specific systems

Canvas Visual Communications a videoconferencing vendor once owned in part by British Telecom is taking aim at the federal market with a new federal office and a General Services Administration schedule awarded earlier this year.

Canvas which opened its Federal Division in Herndon Va. plans to tackle the federal market through systems integrators value-added resellers direct sales and the GSA schedule. Canvas admits to not having the name recognition of such videoconferencing rivals as V-Tel or PictureTel Corp. in the government market. But the company plans to use its application-driven product approach to gain recognition.

"The focus is on applications " said Marian Levy vice president of marketing at Canvas. "We're working on software that would give us applications for very specific lines of business. We're developing a hardware interface that will allow us to become hardware-independent."

The company provides general and application-specific systems for vertical markets such as telemedicine financial services and distance education and it sells products that range from desktop to roll-about room systems.

The Canvas Health Care System for example is a cabinet-size unit that transmits video high-resolution images voice and data and also accepts inputs from medical devices such as microscopes. The system comes with various network and communications interfaces and can be configured for a variety of specialized applications.

Canvas also sells PC Point Video Systems which are desktop PC-based videoconferencing systems that let users share applications. Users can easily add new technology upgrades to the systems according to the company.

"We've realized that the actual hardware technology will become a commodity over the next few years " said Pete Gaffney director of federal strategic accounts at Canvas.

"The same codec can be used in telemedicine as in distance education with a different user interface. We can offer an upgrade path that is not hardware vendor-specific " he said.

Gaffney said this is a strong selling point for government users who want to protect investments by using open systems.

"We're trying to attack the federal market " Gaffney said. "I think the problem is market awareness. They know us in the commercial world but not yet in the federal market."

Some of the resellers that represent the company on the GSA schedule include Dynamic Technology Systems Inc. Alexandria Va. Tele-Measurements Inc. New Jersey and Audiovisual Washington Inc Fairfax Va. The company is particularly interested in forging partnerships with companies involved in vertical markets Gaffney said.

Canvas Visual Communications was previously called BT Visual Images which was owned by British Telecom and CBCI Telecom Inc.

At the end of last year CBCI bought out BT's holdings the company went public and BT then became an investor. The company became known as Canvas Visual Communications last October.

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