Social Question

jaytkay's avatar

Why don't we have video phones?

Asked by jaytkay (23305 points ) June 15th, 2011

Video calls have been predicted almost since the creation of the phone ( here’s one from 1925) and today we have the technology.

But it’s pretty much never used.

Why?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

15 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

My daughter uses Skype video all the time!

I think people find it doesn’t add much to the conversation.

Sarcasm's avatar

You mean like Skype (Or gchat, or tokbox, or MSN…)? or Facetime?

We do.

linguaphile's avatar

Oh, we do have videophones. I use one everyday.
Lemme see… here’s a Facetime and a Video Relay at 1:25 and a VPAD and Another VPAD video
I should mention Viable (VPAD creators) is defunct… the team broke lots of FCC laws. Yeah, even deaf people can be crooks… :(

jerv's avatar

I am often doing things other than talking when I am on the phone. Maybe I am driving (I have a car dock wired to my stereo, so it’s hands-free), surfing the ‘net, walking down the street, just woke up and haven’t gotten dressed, or “filing some paperwork in the Oval Office”. Okay, show of hands here; who wants to be on a video call while they are on the toilet? Enough said.

Remember, those 1925 vidphones were from an era when most conversations were formal, people were not so busy all of the time, and basically things were different than they are nowadays.

Nullo's avatar

3, an Italian telecommunications company, was advertising video chat via cell phone waaaaay back in 2002. No sign of the video phone option now, so maybe it collapsed.
Sadly, until they find a way to work the camera behind the screen, you’re not going to be making eye contact.

linguaphile's avatar

@Nullo When I use a Sorenson VP (that’s what it’s abbreviated to), VPAD, Ojo, or even Facetime, the eye contact’s not a noticeable problem unless the other person has their camera unit way off. Oddly enough it’s more noticeable on webcams. What’s noticeable is when there is a video of you, like on a split screen, you can wave your hand and watch your hand move on the screen a half second later. Amusing, but doesn’t interfere with the delivery because the other person doesn’t see the delay- only you do.
I don’t know where others can test out videophones (not Skype but a real VP), but if you have a chance, do try it out!

LuckyGuy's avatar

It’s 6:25 AM. If you called me on a videophone now you’d see me walking around in my underwear feeding the birds. The meaning of the conversation would be lost.
You might never call me again.

filmfann's avatar

In a few months, Comcast will be releasing their video-phone service, which involves your television, I believe.
My wife, who is deaf, finds video phones too jerky to help her with lip reading or signing.
As for me, I am just as glad they aren’t out there. I often answer the phone while not looking my best. “Hello?” “Hey, Jack! I just wanted to… Are you on the toilet?”

linguaphile's avatar

Haha! there IS an ignore button on the videophone, one I use liberally.

jerv's avatar

@linguaphile Yes, but there are many people like me who would practically never not use it that it’s a moot point. Videophones are nothing more than a novelty a far as I’m concerned, and I am far from the only person who feels that way.
That said, there are enough people who are into novelty to make it financially viable, though probably not a priority; more of a side project. Many of the computer programs that allow video are primarily text- or voice-based with the video as an added feature.

AshlynM's avatar

Maybe it hasn’t caught on yet? Not sure why, video phones have been around for a long time. Nowadays, there are just too many other popular means of communication other than the video phone, such as cell phones, web cams, texting and email.

I’m surprised some work places do not have video phones. Back when I was working, there were times when I would have liked to have seen who I was talking to, whenever other employees within the company would call me.

Wikipedia provides some insight as to why video phones haven’t taken over.

jerv's avatar

@AshlynM You raise a good point. Tablet computers were around for over a decade before the iPad came out, yet for some odd reason you would think Apple had invented tablets (and oxygen) from the way some people have reacted to the iPad.

However, your surprise that some work places don’t have video phones perplexes me. To my mind, such a thing is only useful in the sort of job that involves sitting in conference rooms and shuffling papers all day. Many of those of us in the blue collar world barely have use for a phone in the workplace at all in the first place, and I can’t see a retail place really needing one either.

So in addition to the reasons found on Wikipedia (which apply mainly to individual home use) is the fact that most businesses would have nothing to gain from (and possibly something to lose by) going video.

linguaphile's avatar

For some people, videophones aren’t a novelty, but here to stay- Deaf people are using VP’s way more than people who can hear are. Deaf people used text waaay before hearing people did, and now use videophones in place of the bulky, cumbersome, slow teletype machines that came out in the 60’s. I know many Deaf people who won’t use any technology except VP’s to make their phone calls. For people who can hear, it might be a novelty, but for Deaf people, VP’s make life much, much more accessible and comfortable.

jerv's avatar

@linguaphile You have to admit that that is still a niche market though. The numbers I’ve seen indicate that, at 1.1% market share, Linux users outnumber deaf people by a considerable margin. Wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs are life-changers for a small percentage of the population too, but you don’t see everyone running out to get one for themselves.

linguaphile's avatar

@jerv I did start with “for some people,” so I think I already acknowledged what you are pointing out.

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