Monday, July 12, 2010

Video chat gets closer to mainstream

In a series of TV ads in 1993, AT&T pitched a vision of a near-future absolutely brimming with live video communication.

From a busy mom tucking her kids in bed from a video phone booth and a barefoot exec participating in a business meeting from the beach to a student quizzing a professor about the history of jazz from across the country, narrator Tom Selleck confidently promised that “You will!” soon be doing all those Jetsonian tricks.

Kurt Scherf, principal analyst with Dallas-based market research firm Parks Associates, said a study done by his firm in March found that 20 percent of households with broadband Internet connections use computer-based webcams on a regular basis.

“That would be a mass-market phenomenon right there,” he said.

Scherf said the new wave of mobile devices—as well as more sophisticated systems such as telepresence—could well boost video communication’s popularity.

Much of that could be generational.

Scherf said teenagers might be quick to adopt mobile video chat.

“Frankly, I think that’s how dating may start,” he said. “Folks are getting together and breaking up over text messages, so maybe video chat is the next phase.”

At the other end of the age spectrum, simple-to-use HD videoconferencing is ideal for adults who want to check on elderly parents who live far away.

“You can physically see the parent,” Scherf said. “You can see the color of their skin. You can ask them if they’re taking their pills and have them hold up the little pill holders.”

From the article, "Video chat gets closer to mainstream" by Victor Godinez

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