Communication – where’s it going ?

I was thinking about the direction of communication last night, and sure enough an article on turns up this morning which talks about video communication. So where is communication headed? – think about the changes from radio to black and white television, to color, to PVR, to portable video players – what’s changed in communication? – first there was the telephone, a fixed line device that needed you to be at your home or office to make or answer calls, next came the portable phone, or cellphone – that’s about as far as we’ve come, it’s still about voice communication, the fixed line is going away with cellphones and VoIP phones replacing the regular “land line” phones. But what about video? – Instant Messaging applications provide text, emoticons, and video over IP but the technology is just too hard for the average user to use, I certainly can’t see my mother using a video over IP application, so what about devices like the Beamer – I think this is perhaps too expensive – perhaps a mixture of video over IM and Beamer technologies would be the ideal mix, so the computer users can keep their PC’s and the relatives can use a ‘consumer device’. So what about cellphones, these are still primarily a voice device, yes the newer phones have cameras, media players, games etc… but the main use is as a voice phone – I wonder how long it’s going to be before we start to see video communication services on cellphones.

– Mike

Comments (13)

  1. vbNullString says:

    Video communication services on cell. phones are already available in Japan. 😉

  2. Deepesh shah says:

    it is also available in UK

    check out

  3. Mike says:

    Deepesh, what is the phone/service you are using in the UK for live video and voice communication ?

    – Mike

  4. Jeff Parker says:

    You know I guess I wonder about this, is this something we really need? Video on cell phones, I remember the big hype on the video regular phones and they seemed to really disapear. Netmeeting and corporate meeting via phone seem to be the only place they seem to have stuck around.

  5. Mike says:

    Isn’t this a logical step from wired to wireless phones, then to video and voice ?

    I had a dental appointment this morning [only a checkup] but I had a few minutes to spin the gray cell gears around and thought some more about communication – think back to the original Star Trek series [the one with Kirk, Spock etc…], think about their communicators, the series creators were obviously thinking about future technologies, shuttle craft, faster than light, transporters etc… It’s interesting to see some web sites that compare todays technology with Star Trek, almost like a yard stick [whatever that is!]. Even in the Star Trek universe technology was still tied to voice only – why wouldn’t we move to voice and video, don’t you prefer "face to face" communication than simply voice ? – especially if you’re talking to friends and relatives that you don’t see very often.

    – Mike

  6. Boldrin says:

    Hey Mike,

    Take a look at UMTS technology (Universal Mobile Telecommunication System). It’s about packet switching radio-networks, where audio (or video, or whatever you may like) are only data packets in the network.

    In Europe it’s already been installed, and I’ve seen it work in cellphone-prototypes.

  7. Jeff Parker says:

    Actually no I do not want to see them, I actually see a much worse problem to this. First, I do not want to shower and comb my hair to talk on the phone, I do not want my boss calling me in the middle of the night to come fix a computer problem to have to get up out of bed in my underwear and answer the phone. He probably wouldn’t be to apreciative either. The other thing I see bad about this. Telemarketers. Main reason I think the home video phones never really took off.

    When you look at the Star Trek reference I think they really had it right, when they woke the captain up at night or had a message for him they used a comm, similar to a cell phone. That way they had personal time and some privacy. When they had big meetings, or more personal or important communication then they used a video again similar to the board meeting of today with video conferencing.

  8. Mike says:

    How about just having the ability to enable/disable the video feature, so if you have just got out of bed you can do voice only…

    – Mike

  9. Jeff Parker says:

    Unfortunately, if you have it people will expect you to use it. I see it kind of like when the company gave me a cell phone years ago. People quit calling my desk phone. People sitting two offices away would call my cell phone to see if I wanted to go to lunch instead of walking two doors down. Cell phones really led to an interuption in peoples daily lives. I remember opening day of Lord of the Rings, I am all pumped up with my close fellow geek friends, I got 3 cell calls during the movie. I have a cell phone to be in contact with in case of an emergency, mass server outage or something.

    Here are people calling me on my cell phone saying "I can’t get my email" "I got this grey pop up on a website said something about erasing my history for me, I clicked yes to install it not I get a ton of pop ups" "Hey I just bought this cable router thing, how do I hook it up" Each one I tell nicely "well there is nothing I can do about it right now I am at a movie" to which they reply, "Oh sorry it isn’t that important" So I think to myself if it isn’t that important why couldn’t you call me on my desk phone and leave me a message.

    So, if answer the phone and I am not in video mode people will just bug you "Why aren’t you in video mode". If you have it people expect you to use it. Kind of like the Mike Hall Blog one or two days of no posts are acceptable. However much longer than that you will probably get emails because some of us expect you to post daily 😉

  10. Mike says:

    so what about putting your phone onto silent or vibrate while you’re in the movie theater ? – this links somewhat into Location Based Services, I recorded a video with one of the PM’s from the Mappoint LBS team a while back [it’s on my Channel 9 blog link], and asked about tracking workers at the end of their shift, the software can be configured to stop tracking after a specified time, so in effect you drop off the radar at that point. I know (from experience) that being on call means that you should still be able to have a life of sorts, and technology should assist that process, not get in the way…

    – Mike

  11. Jeff Parker says:

    Oh, I put it on vibrate, I leave it on vibrate all the time and I get up and leave the theater to talk outside as not to disturb anyone. Basically out of consideration for others. I think we are tuned to answer the phone but for me when ever I hear someone’s cell phone ring out in a public place it just annoys me, I guess to me a ringing cell phone out in public is as annoying and not really much different than someone in public shouting out loud “LOOK AT ME I HAVE A PHONE CALL”. 99% of the calls I get on my cell phone are non important user calls that they need some technical help where if they would read the manual or help file they would be able to help themselves.

    I guess my problem isn’t technology getting in the way it is more the peoples abuse of it and inconsideration of the other person. I love technology I am a geek through and through. But you know maybe people that get this technology that abuse it could have others report their human abuse and have that technology shut off. A prime example of this is Christmas Day last year I am sitting down with my family to eat a Christmas Dinner. I just sit down, warm plate of food, my cell phone starts vibrating. It is the CEO of my company, I answer the phone, something must be down. No he got a home networking kit for Christmas and wanted me to walk him through setting it up so he could use it. Now if it wasn’t for the cell phone my Christmas wouldn’t have been interrupted, I wouldn’t have eaten a cold dinner. The CEO could very well have left me a message on my desk phone to help him set up his home network when it was convenient for me. It would have been socially acceptable, he would not have expected me to be in at my desk phone and would have been fine with not being able to reach me that day. But because I had a cell phone I am suddenly available when ever a user doesn’t want to use the help file. Now imagine the CEO calling me on the video cell phone and telling me to turn on a video so I can show him how to screw in a wire. I mean yeah I have the choice not to answer it. But then again what would you do if Bill Gates called you in the same situation. So anyway I guess if I do not have a video cell phone, I have an acceptable excuse not to use it that would be socially acceptable.

  12. Mike says:

    Having cold crippy dinner, that sucks! – do you need to have your cell phone turned on at all times ? – are you on call 24x7x365 ? – There’s going to be a scale of devices, some people want pay as you go "dumb" phones, others will want data sync to their phone so they can get e-mail, calendar, browse the web, and others will want to play media, music, games, and perhaps have video conversations.

    If you don’t want the video phone, or mobile games, or media then you always have a choice – I’d actually like my Smartphone to be smarter about my Calendar, for example, if my calendar shows that I’m in a meeting then divert all calls to my voicemail and alert me through a notification, of course it would also be good to have an exceptions list (wife, Bill) who would always be able to get you.

    – Mike

  13. Jeff Parker says:

    Mike now that would be perfect, yes make the smart phone smarter. Unfortunately yes I am on call 24x7x365 what really sucks is we have a helpdesk that is staffed, globally. The help desk is supposed to be who calls me.

    User help isn’t even my responsability, I am a programmer. I much prefer to be spending my time in the land of angle brackets and case sensative syntax where I thrive. I build mission critical systems that must remain up and functioning 24x7x365. When those system go down it is usually the help desk that gets the call and can be solved with usually a reboot or something I can look at the logs and diagnose later, they typically never need to call me. But users that I have run across over the years when they have a simple problem way out of anything I do, I am for some reason the first person they call.