In the past few weeks there have been products released to simplify home video chatting/conferencing. Cisco’s Umi and Logitech’s Revue both are trying to bring video conferencing to the home in an easy to use product. There have been other products to achieve video chatting in the home, but there is for the first time a serious marketing push behind this technology. In my opinion I think the general public is and will stay underwhelmed unless there is significant information provided regarding set up of these products for a better experience. If the experience is poor, people are not likely to adopt the technology. Just look at how long it has taken for business video conferencing to take off, and people still have preconceived notions based on outdated opinions about it.
For several reasons, video chatting from the living room is going to be a poor experience. Living rooms typically have windows that provide inconsistent and poor overall lighting. Think about the seating arrangement in your living room and now picture a camera on top of your television. Cameras aren’t wide enough to capture the entire room and even if they were, participants would be so small on screen that you wouldn’t be able to see facial expressions. Not to be forgotten is the audio component of people sitting at varying distances from the microphone.
This is why I think the technology should not be marketed toward Grandma watching her grand children from a distance, but at people with home businesses and those who “telecommute” to work. Home offices are a perfect place for this technology. Offices are going to be smaller, more intimate than the living room and much easier to control lighting and seating. When people have it in the home office and use it for business, the light may switch on and personal use talking to the grand children will be the result, but trying to market the other way around isn’t the best way to go.