Video Calling

Since at least the 1960’s, we’ve been told that someday a phone call would include video. Dick Tracy had a wristwatch with video. The Jetson’s had a large screen video calling capability.

“Meet George Jetson. His Boy Elroy. Daughter Judy. Jane his wife.” — Theme Song

Well, video calling is finally here and it’s affordable. The cost of the phone is less than many popular cell phones. Service quality is already good and will only get better as the technology matures. Also, it is simple to set up and use.

For those who don’t think video is necessary for communication, you are correct. Many things that make our lives richer are not necessary. Human beings are very adaptable. We define necessary according to our expectations, our available resources and what the market can deliver.

Here’s an illustration. Think back about 60-70 years when people got along just fine with a radio and no television. Then along came black and white TV followed by color, followed by high definition. Now, imagine trading your TV in for a radio. Even the best quality radio cannot compete with the average TV. The visual dimension makes the difference.

“Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other.” — Ann Landers

Let’s try some other examples. If the visual aspect of life is not important, why do we have eyes? Try having a face-to-face conversation with your eyes closed. Imagine going to a concert where the performers pipe their music in from backstage or a seminar where the presenter reads the material from behind the curtain. If you don’t get the picture now, you aren’t ready for a video phone. (May I politely suggest you are also in denial?)

Today, the technology is good and the price is easily within reach. I see only four hurdles remaining before video calling gains widespread acceptance.

1) Internet Connectivity — VoIP video phones on the market today require a broadband Internet connection. Although not everyone has broadband, the number who do not is shrinking. Residential broadband is now available for most Americans.

2) Awareness — Most people have not yet had a video calling experience. This is simply a marketing problem that is being remedied as you read this. Demos occur every day all across the country.

3) Whom can I call? — Until widespread distribution occurs, two or more people must agree to get one or there is no reason for a video phone.

4) Privacy — This concern is basically fear of answering the phone on a bad hair day or revealing one’s face to a stranger. Technology provides the solution. A video phone does not mandate activation of the video capability. In other words, they come equipped with a “video mute” button.

Who is getting started with video? The following list should spark your imagination:

  • Military families separated by overseas deployment
  • First generation Americans that wish to stay close to their roots
  • Grandparents who want to see their grandchildren grow up
  • Schools that want access to guest speakers without increasing the field trip budget
  • Museums offering video presentations as a public service and a way to promote the museum’s mission
  • Businesses with a need to offer remote field support
  • Remote business training to reduce travel costs
  • Missionaries staying connected to their families and sponsors
  • Parents who miss their college student
  • Professional athletes and entertainers stay in touch during road trips
  • Vacationers who prefer a video call to a post card

I am not someone who races to be among the first to get a new technology. I don’t have a high-definition TV, a Wii, or an X-Box and I got my first cell phone in late 2004. But video calling made too much sense to wait. Even though I am not Dick Tracy or George Jetson, I use video calling regularly for one reason or another. Someday you will too, because of the impact of video.

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” — Fred R. Barnard

God bless,

— CC

© Copyright July 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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