Cisco Makes 'Martian' Connection

Cisco videoconferencing plays a supporting role in the movie The Martian.

Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

October 9, 2015

2 Min Read
Cisco Makes 'Martian' Connection

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Cisco takes a trip to the future in the science fiction movie The Martian, as a shipwrecked astronaut on Mars, played by Matt Damon, uses Cisco video conferencing equipment to phone home to NASA to on Earth.

"They reached out to us," Rowan Trollope, SVP/GM for the Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) collaboration Technology Group, tells Light Reading. Cisco's telepresence technology is gaining traction in several vertical industries that need realtime collaboration at a distance, and Hollywood is among them. While Cisco has paid for product placement on movies and TV in the past, including the show NCIS, it didn't pay to be included in The Martian, though it did provide the technology and technical support.

In the movie, the character played by Matt Damon, stranded on Mars, uses big-screen video conferencing for face-to-face collaboration with NASA colleagues on Earth, as he struggles to stay alive long enough for a rescue mission to bring him home.

The movie characters use the Cisco DX80, a desktop video conferencing unit, as well as a large video screen.

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Cisco support engineer Tobias Brodtkorb traveled to Budapest, where The Martian was filmed, to set up equipment, he said in a droll blog post. He configured an MX300 room conferencing system and 10 DX80s, as well as MX700 and MX800 large room video conferencing systems. The bigger systems weren't included in the movie, but the DX80s make the cut.

In addition to The Martian, Cisco's telepresence is used on a video wall on the Jimmy Kimmel Show to allow the at-home audience a chance to interact with people on the show.

And Cisco's technology has been in space in real life. "In 2001, astronaut Marsha Ivins, using a Cisco IP SoftPhone on the space shuttle Atlantis, directly dialed the flight director, Bob Castle, at mission control center," the company said in an email to Light Reading. And Internet Routing in Space (IRIS) "was a program to build a radiation-tolerant IP router created by Cisco for satellite and related spacecraft."

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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