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Culture of Video Phone Calls

Now that videophones are a practicality, we move on from the situation envisaged in science-fiction a while back, where people involved in a video phone call would stare resolutely at each-other and converse in an almost militaristic style. In a way, the more modern culture of videophones is much more in keeping with the spirit of "I'll just put you on Speakerphone" (where the communication channel is opened up to the whole room).

You see, the fact is, when you're having a discussion with someone who's actually with you, you don't generally stare right at them all of the time. People having a convivial chat in someone's lounge tend to look around the room at the interesting lifestyle choices, glancing only infrequently at the other person to check their expression at key points in the repartee. So, a videophone call should be able to be like that at a distance. So, what you see on your screen in a picture-in-picture of the person's face, but the main robot cam does some in-house glancing around the room.

When people are walking along a path together having a discussion, they are carrying on a conversation only seldom looking at each-other, and instead they are looking at the scenery. So, when those people are walking along in the scenery of different lands, but having a mobile videophone conversation on VoIP, the video-cameras and screens need to cope with that. Of course other people tend to consider the person (at each end) is mad, as they are perceived to be walking on their own, talking to themselves, and glancing into their Borg-eyepiece at the same time as watching where they are going!

(If you're trying to implement this technologically, the trick is in the way the inertial gyro results are added together in the right way; we learn from the progress of the Tilting Trains).

Even in static implementations of videophones, there is much to be learned, in order to make these things more sociable, so that the culture shapes the technology, not the other way around. A videophone-cam needs to be able to look around a room, and it needs to be in the style in which if you visited someone's house, you'd see their lifestyle, not just their facial expression.

Now it might seem a bit inconvenient to suggest that phone boxes will need to be bigger to accommodate a dance arena, but if not, then how are you going to get the gesticulations made by a person to be conveyed to the other end?

This culture of video phones is continuously being developed, and it is something which will unfold in the fullness of time. It wasn't long ago, in the age of using a Morse-key to send messages down a telegraph cable, that if someone suggested that one day you'd be able to have a two-way voice conversation, they'd have been said to be mad. I am mad, and I suggest all sorts of interesting things that are ahead of time!

Video phone call technology equipment includes the EEE-PC, and X10 Videocalls, and there's probably still an interesting future antiquity of a videophone on Zyra's Bazaar. I had wondered if it had somehow arrived from the future, but on opening it up, all the chips were dated 1999.

Also see Skype, VoIP, and Communication

Yes it's true, Skype has the option of Videophone communication. This involves having a webcam. Make sure you put an egg-cosy over the cam after use!

If you think this videophone culture is rather odd, take a look at the inertial 3D body scanner !