Will Video Conferencing Become the Preferred Communication Tool?
Every invention of technology aims at providing people with convenience and efficiency, communicative technologies enable people to exchange information at any time and everywhere. Thanks to the emergence of Internet and smartphones, we are now able to do video chatting with family members from anywhere in the world, and talk with each other face-to-face as if we were brought together in the same location; videoconferencing is the use of technology such as videophone for a group rather than for individuals, and the goal is to create an illusion that participants from remote places are in the same space. Video conferencing even makes work-from-home possible which saves a lot commuting time as well as working spaces.
Roots of Video Conferencing
Video conferencing concept was first introduced in the 1870s as an extension of audio devices. The first actual video telephone was developed in the late 1920s with the AT&T Company, and the company first experimented with video telephones in 1927. In 1970, AT&T has released a video of the Picturephone’s commercial debut, the video showed the first call from the commercial release in Pittsburgh. Prior to being popularized in the 1970s there were only three Picturephones available in New York, DC, and Chicago. The three machines could only communicate with one another and were extremely expensive.
The massive use of video conferencing began with the computer revolution in 1980s when the technology were available for ordinary people at a reasonable price. In the 1990s, webcams appeared, and the first webcam was introduced to the market in 1994 which was called QuickCam. Time Magazine had even named it one of the top computer devices. In the 2000s, video telephony was popularized via Internet services such as Skype and iChat, and these on-line telecommunication programs promoted low cost but lower-quality videoconferencing to any location with an Internet connection. It’s not hard to tell that video conferencing is a revolutionary communication technologies on many aspects:
The Impact of Video Conferencing on Business/Companies
The impact of video conferencing on business is enormous. In business, video conferencing uses telecommunication to bring people together for a meeting, and the multipoint video conferencing allows more business employees or companies to “sit” in a virtual room and communicate as if they were in the same location. Video conferencing saves not only money but also time that would otherwise been spent on travel and commuting, therefore it in returns, increases productivity: business travel costs the company a lot of money including money spent on flight tickets, meals and hotel accommodations. Video conferencing allows face-to-face communication without having to leave the work space; through video conferencing, people in remote locations can participate in the same meeting for a relatively short time which saves a lot of time. Meeting participants can also engage across time from any location in the world; planning for a meeting takes a long time, booking meeting rooms and planning for the attendees is even more time-consuming. The video conferencing is an efficient way of increasing productivity by reducing preparation time spent on business meetings.
Video conferencing also makes employee training much easier, it is always hard for an employee to find time to stop working and attend a training session held by the company. Video conferencing allows employees to be trained during their “flexible hours”, and it is even possible for companies to create exams to evaluate their understanding of the training information.
The Impact of Video Conferencing on Education
We’ve talked a lot about the positive impacts of video conferencing on businesses, the impact on education is also worth considering. The recent educational system is ready to utilize recorded video to teach students in the class. Advantages of video conferencing for education range from reducing education cost, making better use of time to learning anywhere at any time.
Video conferencing can allow many experts or professors from other universities to “visit” classrooms in any state of the country. These “guest speakers” are not limited to time or location, they can even deliver the same lecture or presentation to multiple classrooms at one time. In this way, universities can elicit the thoughtful knowledge of a remote professional without him/her being in each school.
Students can even take a video conferencing field trip from the comfort of their classroom. Student who live abroad or in some rural areas may miss many opportunities for better education. Video conferencing gives these students the opportunity to be involved in classes from homes or even from their own countries. Students who are curious about the distinct education environment in other countries might be satisfied by video conferencing – connecting with classrooms in other remote countries allow students to better understand distant cultures. Schools can also hold conferences over video to minimize scheduling conflicts for both teacher and parents.
As with every coin, there are two sides. The disadvantages of video conferencing might raise our concerns and considerations:
Analyze the Disadvantages of Video Conferencing
Skype is one of the most popular video conferencing platforms that we have already familiar with, it becomes popular because of its ability to call anyone in the world without being charged. Families who are separated as well as international students who are not staying in the same countries with their parents can still keep in touch through Skype. However, Skype relies heavily on data connection, it needs access to internet or cellular data to be used. Although video calls allows visual contact between people from afar, Skype is unable to replicate the real face-to-face interaction. People may miss out the visual clues from other people’s body language during video chatting, thus miscommunications might also have happened under this situation. Video conferencing may also take away from the personal aspect of the conversation, people are still in their familiar surroundings, which may limit the effectiveness in interpreting information.
When it comes to businesses or companies, you cannot really replace business travel for face-to-face communication. Travel is actually the most authentic way to connect with other people, the most important reason for business travel is not solely about the content of the meeting. What values most is the time we spend in other companies’ environment and getting know about their employees on a deep level. People can hardly learn about business culture in telepresence, we learn it only by being there, shaking hands, having dinner together and doing social networks.
Another drawback of video conferencing is that it relies too much on technology itself. Technology cannot be always trusted especially when it comes businesses and educational facilities who use free or cheap video conferencing equipment. On some special occasions, the lack of technical support personnel make it much more difficult for participants who are unskilled in video conferencing. People might feel harder to concentrate on the communication via a video screen, because sometimes there can be some time delay between responses.
Another significant concern might be the security since Skype is sent over the Internet. Though it provides a relatively safe online conversation environment, there is still chance that your conversation could be intercepted. Speaking of here, hacking is really a big threat in today’s society. There is still a few chances that hackers can get access to people’s private video conferences and leak valuable information from one company to another.
Future of Video Conferencing
Video conferencing is an outstanding communication media, however, at the same time, a great deal of consideration needs to be taken into account for both users and audiences. And we may also foresee the future of video conferencing as the emergence of virtual reality technology. By wearing VR headset, people can take virtual meetings even further: VR allows us to view facial expressions as well as body language from other participants, and it combines both virtual and augmented reality into our chatting or meeting experience no matter where we are physically located. With VR video conferencing technology, people won’t miss out eye contact because they can simple turn their head to look around for every detail. The impact of VR video conferencing will be pretty similar to other communication technologies that have been invented before. The more we’ve embraced new communicative technologies, the more we might feel connected to other people as well as the world.