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At TED, Distance Defied

When Shaka Senghor shared his story of redemption, reinvention, and hope with the TED2014 audience in Vancouver, his intimate, powerful talk brought the crowd to its feet. Funny thing is, Senghor wasn't in Vancouver. Not even close.

He was 3,000 miles away in New York. Yet to the TED audience, the honor roll student turned teen-age drug dealer – who served 20 years for murdering a man in Detroit, and who today is a respected writer, teacher, and MIT Media Fellow – was a powerful presence in Vancouver. Senghor defied the odds in his own life, and at TED, he defied the distance of an entire continent to bring his indelible tale to an audience that may never be the same for hearing it.

Canadian border security wouldn't allow Senghor to travel to Vancouver, so TED organizers turned to Polycom. It's not the first time.

In 2012 and 2013, the nonprofit famously devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading" asked Polycom to provide the TED Conference in Long Beach and its sister conference in Palm Springs, TEDActive, with immersive high-definition video so audiences in both locations could share the same experience. Polycom's equipment helped convey many of those ideas through the simulcast of exciting, even unforgettable moments. They included presentations by five renowned innovators aged 18 or younger, a performance by a kazoo orchestra, a riveting discussion about de-extinction, the debut of two new species of robot, and exhibitions of 20 sounds most attendees didn't know a human mouth could make.

In 2014, Polycom's job was to bring to Vancouver someone who wasn't allowed to be there in person, but whose story would cause audience members to cry, and then to cheer.

Chris Anderson, TED curator, says TED's experience with Polycom has helped produce better, more engaging talks: "TED collaborates with the world's most groundbreaking brands, and we are pleased to work with Polycom to extend the reach of TED, and to drive more collaboration and dialogue through the use of their video technology."

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