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]

Phil_Britt 10/11/2015 | 3:55:37 PM
Old Advertising Starategy I don't know if Cisco did anything all that revolutionary, though perhaps it was new for the company. Product placement goes decades back. Sometimes it's a brand/company outreach, sometimes it's the content producer wanting something that fits.


For example,"Contiental Divide" rejected The Chicago Tribune for the reporter's (John Belushi) office, because desks weren't messy enough, choosing Chicago Sun-Times instead.
mhhf1ve 10/9/2015 | 8:26:04 PM
not paid placement.. I think it's actually amazing that Cisco didn't need to pay for marketing in a big hollywood movie. I haven't seen this film yet, but I've heard it's pretty good. Presumably, Cisco's name recognition will be much higher with Matt Damon using it on the silver screen. But I guess for $2K, the market isn't exactly going to take off... (Esp when there's Facetime, Hangouts, FB Messenger, etc... for free)
mhhf1ve 10/9/2015 | 8:20:49 PM
Re: Anachronistic I don't actually think NASA using "old" technology is that far fetched... The Space Shuttle, when it was still in operation, used hardware that was decades old right up until the end. If it works, don't fix it... and it takes a long time to qualify hardware for space missions. 

And.. there are also a LOT of old rocket engines still being used. I think Elon Musk decided not to use old Russian rockets for SpaceX because he thought they were overpriced and that he could develop rocket tech that actually got cheaper over time.
Mitch Wagner 10/9/2015 | 6:34:20 PM
Re: Anachronistic Not really all that expensive. The DX80 desktop unit is under $2,000, and replaces the user's computer external display and phone. 
danielcawrey 10/9/2015 | 2:45:39 PM
Re: Anachronistic Interesting, using 2015 technology in the future. 

But this is good for Cisco. Their telepresnce equipment is used by a number of companies, and is expensive. With this kind of product placement, this is really great marketing for the gear. 
Mitch Wagner 10/9/2015 | 1:13:42 PM
Anachronistic I'm looking forward to seeing the movie this weekend. 

Use of the Cisco equipment is, of course, anachronistic. The movie is set years in the future but they're using 2015 technology?
Mitch Wagner 10/9/2015 | 1:13:42 PM
Anachronistic I'm looking forward to seeing the movie this weekend. 

Use of the Cisco equipment is, of course, anachronistic. The movie is set years in the future but they're using 2015 technology?
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