The Art of the Possible with Video Conferencing

by Kevin Buechler, LifeSize Sales Trainer

Trust your instincts.  Think about the first time you spoke to someone real time and over video.  Whether it be on a desktop, a 40 inch screen, or a gigantic projection- what was your reaction?  The same as the reaction every time your son, daughter, mother, father, or grandparent sees it for the first time- “This is SO COOL!”

Pop culture obsessed over video communication since we harnessed moving images.  I tried to think about the earliest examples I remembered from movies and TV.  As a card carrying member of “Generation V” (unfortunately, I can identify almost every TV theme song since 1978- even shows I have never watched.  Hanging with Mr. Cooper might be my low point.  I digress), I’ll attack the problem generationally.  Flash Gordon movies of the late 30s and early 40s are the first depiction of video communications I could find.  Phone calls from earth to the planet Mongo were not dramatic enough- you needed huge, stadium style, real time visuals to fully appreciate the gloriously evil Ming the Merciless.  Drama (maybe even melodrama) but oh so effective.

A generation later, space travel, unspeakable evil, polyester, fabulous hair, and Vulcan logic brought the same intergalactic video to the Federation and the Starship Enterprise.  The beauty of Star Trek was that video communication was available for all interstellar travelers, regardless of their origin of planet, morality, or ear shape.  The ultimate in interoperable standards.

For my generation, the Jetsons set the standard.  Videoconferencing was in the home and at work.  George was as comfortable calling home to Jane about dinner as Misters Spacely and Cogswell were arguing about business.  Among the automatic dog walking and interactive robotic maid technologies, the ability to communicate trumped them all.

Back to the original theme- if we’ve seen, dreamed, and achieved what was once thought only to be science fiction, why is it still soooo cool?  While it is certainly not the only reason, I will offer one theory I find compelling.  It is the unpredictability of human expressions.  It’s the way eyes crinkle on smiles, foreheads crimp when thinking, fingers fidget while problems big and small are solved.  It is transfixing.  Handheld, desktop, tv screen, or stadium projection, real time eye contact is still social currency.

In my opinion, it will still be cool 100 years from now- whether it be Dick Tracy’s video watch or the fact that video is the only communication allowed in Rick Riordan’s Camp Half BloodThe Lost Hero (shout out to my kids’ generation).  Real time, high definition, interactive video conferencing is not only about feeds and speeds and price performance, but also about the wonder of technology and the art of the possible.  I’m pretty sure I stole that last line from either the musical “Evita”, Frank Zappa, or Spongebob Squarepants- viva la Generation V– the pioneers of the video age!

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