In the 1968 movie “2001 A Space Odyssey”, director Stanley Kubrick, together with writer Arthur C. Clarke, has shown us a future filled with technological advances of all kinds.
Some of them are still science-fiction - like the massive von Braun space station orbiting the Earth and an exploratory mission sent to Jupiter - while others have come true. Of the many things predicted by the movie - tablet computers, personal TV screens on flights, and similar technologies - it’s video phone calls that are perhaps the most-used today.
Real-time video streaming, as shown in the movie, is used in many areas, ranging from the Betway Live Games you can stream on your PC to secure systems that allow employees to work from the comfort of their homes.
Video conferencing in a nutshell
The idea of video conferencing has been around a century before the above-mentioned movie. The concept was first introduced in 1870, and the first experiments with video phones have started in the 1920s at Bell Labs. For a long time, the technology stuck to the transmission of analog signals across telephone lines - AT&T has offered its first video conferencing service called “Picturephone” in the early 1970s. The emergence and spread of the internet have sped up the development of video communication, and the emergence of the mobile phone - plus the smartphone - has pushed it into the mainstream. Today, anyone with an iPhone (FaceTime) or an Android-powered handset can initiate a video call, either through the mobile network or through the internet.
Video conferencing today
Today, there are several companies offering video conferencing services to private, corporate, and educational customers around the world. The technology can be - and is - used in areas ranging from education - like homeschooling students and teaching even in remote areas - to business meetings, remote work, and telecommuting, as well as the entertainment industry. Business and education are not the only areas where videophony is useful - among others, it allows hearing-impaired users to communicate easier, and doctors to diagnose their patients without even being in the room.
The next step: telepresence
Communicating “face to face” over long distances is a great achievement in itself but the next step is even more exciting: being in two places at the same time. Before you argue that we are once again venturing into science fiction territory: telepresence is very much a thing today.
A telepresence robot is a device that combines the motility of a robot with the possibilities of digital videophony to allow a person not only to see a person from far away but to interact with their surroundings, to move around, to participate in events even from half a world away.