Why haven't video calls taken off

30 May 2008 - 6:55am
5 years ago
16 replies
1394 reads
Sachendra
2005

It was supposed to be the next big thing but it fizzled out like MMS

An important thing to note is you would have to use the speakerphone
to do video calls (unless you're always on BT headset or handsfree,
which is not true for an overwhelming majority of people) and this
compromises privacy in a big way…no one wants people nearby snooping
in on their conversations.

Would love to hear your thoughts on why it hasn't taken off yet?

I will make a post about the responses I receive and will publish them
in a few weeks for all to see (names are anonymous)

--
Sachendra Yadav
http://sachendra.wordpress.com

Comments

30 May 2008 - 8:23am
Alexander Baxevanis
2007

Because it's a greedy mobile interface:

http://www.adaptivepath.com/blog/2008/05/21/greedy-mobile-interfaces/

On Fri, May 30, 2008 at 12:55 PM, Sachendra Yadav <sachendra at gmail.com> wrote:
> It was supposed to be the next big thing but it fizzled out like MMS
>
> An important thing to note is you would have to use the speakerphone
> to do video calls (unless you're always on BT headset or handsfree,
> which is not true for an overwhelming majority of people) and this
> compromises privacy in a big way…no one wants people nearby snooping
> in on their conversations.
>
> Would love to hear your thoughts on why it hasn't taken off yet?
>
> I will make a post about the responses I receive and will publish them
> in a few weeks for all to see (names are anonymous)
>
> --
> Sachendra Yadav
> http://sachendra.wordpress.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

30 May 2008 - 11:34am
Peyush Agarwal
2007

Alexander,
I'm not sure I agree with the notion of 'greedy interface' as the problem. I mean, it's the whole point when you do video calls, no?

I think rather that there are 3 general issues with video phoning -
1. Technology - they are bandwidth heavy, and unreliable in terms of quality. Sometimes it's good other times choppy etc. It has to work like tv all the time from any location. Sort of how audio phoning works.
2. Logistics - maybe this is also technological, but it's too much hassle to sit in the right place, have the right lighting etc. to make it worthwhile. I remember when I first used webcams (low res, choppy etc.) the excitement of seeing someone from another part of the world was quickly overcome by constantly wanting to 'place' them such that I could be 'eye to eye' with them, and be able to see their face properly etc. Typically, lights behind the person that work fine as local ambient light are terrible for the person on the other end of the call - all they see is a silhouette.
3. Privacy - I think it would be just terrible if you HAD to use videoconferencing - I don't have to pat down my cowlick in order to speak over the phone today, or put on a tie etc.

-Peyush

<Because it's a greedy mobile interface:

http://www.adaptivepath.com/blog/2008/05/21/greedy-mobile-interfaces/>

30 May 2008 - 11:46am
Nancy Broden
2005

Add to these the fact that simply seeing the other person on the other
end of the line adds very little to the communication. Now, if I were
to see what you see, instead of just seeing you....

On May 30, 2008, at 9:34 AM, Peyush Agarwal wrote:

> Alexander,
> I'm not sure I agree with the notion of 'greedy interface' as the
> problem. I mean, it's the whole point when you do video calls, no?
>
> I think rather that there are 3 general issues with video phoning -
> 1. Technology - they are bandwidth heavy, and unreliable in terms of
> quality. Sometimes it's good other times choppy etc. It has to work
> like tv all the time from any location. Sort of how audio phoning
> works.
> 2. Logistics - maybe this is also technological, but it's too much
> hassle to sit in the right place, have the right lighting etc. to
> make it worthwhile. I remember when I first used webcams (low res,
> choppy etc.) the excitement of seeing someone from another part of
> the world was quickly overcome by constantly wanting to 'place' them
> such that I could be 'eye to eye' with them, and be able to see
> their face properly etc. Typically, lights behind the person that
> work fine as local ambient light are terrible for the person on the
> other end of the call - all they see is a silhouette.
> 3. Privacy - I think it would be just terrible if you HAD to use
> videoconferencing - I don't have to pat down my cowlick in order to
> speak over the phone today, or put on a tie etc.
>

--------------------------------
Nancy Broden
nancy.broden at gmail.com

30 May 2008 - 11:47am
Alexander Baxevanis
2007

No.2 below is what I mean by "greedy" in this case. All you need to do
in a normal phone call is hold the phone. Whereas in a video call you
constantly need to pay attention to the logistics.

On Fri, May 30, 2008 at 5:34 PM, Peyush Agarwal
<peyush.agarwal at oracle.com> wrote:
> Alexander,
> I'm not sure I agree with the notion of 'greedy interface' as the problem. I mean, it's the whole point when you do video calls, no?
>
> I think rather that there are 3 general issues with video phoning -
> 1. Technology - they are bandwidth heavy, and unreliable in terms of quality. Sometimes it's good other times choppy etc. It has to work like tv all the time from any location. Sort of how audio phoning works.
> 2. Logistics - maybe this is also technological, but it's too much hassle to sit in the right place, have the right lighting etc. to make it worthwhile. I remember when I first used webcams (low res, choppy etc.) the excitement of seeing someone from another part of the world was quickly overcome by constantly wanting to 'place' them such that I could be 'eye to eye' with them, and be able to see their face properly etc. Typically, lights behind the person that work fine as local ambient light are terrible for the person on the other end of the call - all they see is a silhouette.
> 3. Privacy - I think it would be just terrible if you HAD to use videoconferencing - I don't have to pat down my cowlick in order to speak over the phone today, or put on a tie etc.
>
> -Peyush
>
>
>
> <Because it's a greedy mobile interface:
>
> http://www.adaptivepath.com/blog/2008/05/21/greedy-mobile-interfaces/>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

30 May 2008 - 11:53am
Petteri Hiisilä
2004

Sachendra Yadav kirjoitti 30.5.2008 kello 14:55:

> An important thing to note is you would have to use the speakerphone
> to do video calls (unless you're always on BT headset or handsfree,
> which is not true for an overwhelming majority of people) and this
> compromises privacy in a big way…no one wants people nearby snooping
> in on their conversations.
>
> Would love to hear your thoughts on why it hasn't taken off yet?

One guess:

A) When you've got anything worth displaying in the video, it's also
often too loud and/or impolite to speak through a loudspeaker.
Everybody else is there too. Imagine a shop, an office, or a museum.

B) When you're in a place that you chose for privacy to make the call,
you'll look creepy in the video. Just look at all the self-made webcam
videos in Youtube and you know what I mean.

It's a bit hard to find a scenario where the comfort of using video
overrides the discomfort of using the very same video. That's why I
believe that private video calls will continue to be an edge case.

However, I believe that video conferencing will grow its popularity.
It is OK to be a little loud in a meeting, because the room is likely
to be free of outsiders. Video also helps to interpret who's speaking.
In private calls it's obvious.

Thanks,
Petteri

--
Petteri Hiisilä
palvelumuotoilija /
Senior Interaction Designer
iXDesign / +358505050123 /
petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi

"In this island, everything happens for a reason."
- John Locke, LOST

30 May 2008 - 12:02pm
Alexander Baxevanis
2007

Well, that's only partly correct. It adds little to the value of
communication if the quality is bad, but in most cases it has been
proven that visual cues are a significant back channel of human
communication.

I believe the second scenario (broadcasting what you see) is actually
now implemented in most 3G mobiles, i.e. you can switch between the
fron-facing & the back-facing camera. I'm sure of course that the
option is deeply hidden in some menu ;-)

Another thing I forgot to mention is that there is little support for
the "negotiation phase". If you look at things like Skype, you can
negotiate in advance via IM if you want to do a video call and each
party can enable or disable their video feed independently during the
call. Also, you can elect to show if you have a camera (& thus can do
video calls). On a mobile, you can't be sure if the other party is
capable or willing to engage in a video call, and I'm not sure if
there's a seamless way to hand over between video & voice-only calls.

Cheers,
Alex

On Fri, May 30, 2008 at 5:46 PM, Nancy Broden <nancy.broden at gmail.com> wrote:
> Add to these the fact that simply seeing the other person on the other end
> of the line adds very little to the communication. Now, if I were to see
> what you see, instead of just seeing you....
>
> On May 30, 2008, at 9:34 AM, Peyush Agarwal wrote:
>
>> Alexander,
>> I'm not sure I agree with the notion of 'greedy interface' as the problem.
>> I mean, it's the whole point when you do video calls, no?
>>
>> I think rather that there are 3 general issues with video phoning -
>> 1. Technology - they are bandwidth heavy, and unreliable in terms of
>> quality. Sometimes it's good other times choppy etc. It has to work like tv
>> all the time from any location. Sort of how audio phoning works.
>> 2. Logistics - maybe this is also technological, but it's too much hassle
>> to sit in the right place, have the right lighting etc. to make it
>> worthwhile. I remember when I first used webcams (low res, choppy etc.) the
>> excitement of seeing someone from another part of the world was quickly
>> overcome by constantly wanting to 'place' them such that I could be 'eye to
>> eye' with them, and be able to see their face properly etc. Typically,
>> lights behind the person that work fine as local ambient light are terrible
>> for the person on the other end of the call - all they see is a silhouette.
>> 3. Privacy - I think it would be just terrible if you HAD to use
>> videoconferencing - I don't have to pat down my cowlick in order to speak
>> over the phone today, or put on a tie etc.
>>
>
> --------------------------------
> Nancy Broden
> nancy.broden at gmail.com
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

30 May 2008 - 12:14pm
johndan
2003

I know that *I* tend to not use the cellphone much in crowded public
spaces because it seems odd to be having a private conversation in
public (even without speakerphone, one half of that conversation is
pretty public). But given the number of people already having one half
of loud conversations on their cellphones in public (even in quiet
spaces), there seems to be a large percentage of people using
cellphones who *aren't* worried about the privacy issue.

(Frankly, I wish there were far fewer of them, but that's a separate
issue.)

- Johndan

Sachendra Yadav kirjoitti 30.5.2008 kello 14:55:

> An important thing to note is you would have to use the speakerphone
> to do video calls (unless you're always on BT headset or handsfree,
> which is not true for an overwhelming majority of people) and this
> compromises privacy in a big way…no one wants people nearby snooping
> in on their conversations.
>
> Would love to hear your thoughts on why it hasn't taken off yet?

30 May 2008 - 12:14pm
David Drucker
2008

The fact is, for us, Video Calls, "took off' quite some time ago, but
they have a particular time, place and function: We have a weekly
video conference with my parents, who are on the opposite coast from
my wife and I. We have a large screen, good speakers and fast,
relatively reliable Internet speed. We use iChat AV and the quality is
superb - most of the time the session is full-screen with little or no
delay, so, we sit down with coffee and chat with them as if they were
across the living room coffee table.

Like many communication mediums, there is a time and place. We've
found over the years that video calls are perfect for a weekly chat
that is more social in nature. Now that we can share photos and even
screens at times, we've also used it to update them on what we did
during the week, and I sometimes can help in a technical issue for my
father. I think that this scheduled, emotion-centric weekly 'reunion'
makes more sense than using videoconferencing for an ad hoc, quick
business call with a stranger.

As Wittgenstein said, "Don't ask for the meaning, ask for the use."

-David D.

On 30-May-08, at 10:02 AM, Alexander Baxevanis wrote:

> Well, that's only partly correct. It adds little to the value of
> communication if the quality is bad, but in most cases it has been
> proven that visual cues are a significant back channel of human
> communication.
>
> I believe the second scenario (broadcasting what you see) is actually
> now implemented in most 3G mobiles, i.e. you can switch between the
> fron-facing & the back-facing camera. I'm sure of course that the
> option is deeply hidden in some menu ;-)
>
> Another thing I forgot to mention is that there is little support for
> the "negotiation phase". If you look at things like Skype, you can
> negotiate in advance via IM if you want to do a video call and each
> party can enable or disable their video feed independently during the
> call. Also, you can elect to show if you have a camera (& thus can do
> video calls). On a mobile, you can't be sure if the other party is
> capable or willing to engage in a video call, and I'm not sure if
> there's a seamless way to hand over between video & voice-only calls.
>
> Cheers,
> Alex
>
> On Fri, May 30, 2008 at 5:46 PM, Nancy Broden
> <nancy.broden at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Add to these the fact that simply seeing the other person on the
>> other end
>> of the line adds very little to the communication. Now, if I were
>> to see
>> what you see, instead of just seeing you....
>>
>> On May 30, 2008, at 9:34 AM, Peyush Agarwal wrote:
>>
>>> Alexander,
>>> I'm not sure I agree with the notion of 'greedy interface' as the
>>> problem.
>>> I mean, it's the whole point when you do video calls, no?
>>>
>>> I think rather that there are 3 general issues with video phoning -
>>> 1. Technology - they are bandwidth heavy, and unreliable in terms of
>>> quality. Sometimes it's good other times choppy etc. It has to
>>> work like tv
>>> all the time from any location. Sort of how audio phoning works.
>>> 2. Logistics - maybe this is also technological, but it's too much
>>> hassle
>>> to sit in the right place, have the right lighting etc. to make it
>>> worthwhile. I remember when I first used webcams (low res, choppy
>>> etc.) the
>>> excitement of seeing someone from another part of the world was
>>> quickly
>>> overcome by constantly wanting to 'place' them such that I could
>>> be 'eye to
>>> eye' with them, and be able to see their face properly etc.
>>> Typically,
>>> lights behind the person that work fine as local ambient light are
>>> terrible
>>> for the person on the other end of the call - all they see is a
>>> silhouette.
>>> 3. Privacy - I think it would be just terrible if you HAD to use
>>> videoconferencing - I don't have to pat down my cowlick in order
>>> to speak
>>> over the phone today, or put on a tie etc.
>>>
>>
>> --------------------------------
>> Nancy Broden
>> nancy.broden at gmail.com
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
>> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

--
David Drucker
Vancouver, BC

david at drucker.ca

30 May 2008 - 11:46am
christine chastain
2008

Personally, the issue of video calls has always been not knowing where to
look. In conversation, most people tend to look at the other's face and into
their eyes. With video calling, one is looking at the other person through
multiple layers and for it to appear that one is making eye contact, one
actually has to look at the camera lens which feels like the lens is looking
back at you, not the other person. It is as if one has to feed one's eye
contact through a third party that isn't human, to boot. Does that make
sense? That and the lag time.

On Fri, May 30, 2008 at 9:34 AM, Peyush Agarwal <peyush.agarwal at oracle.com>
wrote:

> Alexander,
> I'm not sure I agree with the notion of 'greedy interface' as the problem.
> I mean, it's the whole point when you do video calls, no?
>
>
>

30 May 2008 - 12:54pm
Greg Edwards
2008

My wife is deaf and so uses a video phone a lot. One thing to note is that
the video quality is really amazing -- the webcam / iChat versions are
getting better and better, but the Sorenson/D-link video (D-link produces
the hardware) that connects directly into your DSL line and your TV is
phenomenal -- perfectly smooth to the extent that you can sign, finger
spell, and all sorts of stuff right there with no noticeable delay.

-Greg

Greg Edwards
CEO & Founder, Eyetools Inc.
greg at eyetools.com
916.792.4538

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of David
Drucker
Sent: Friday, May 30, 2008 11:15 AM
To: IxDA
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Why haven't video calls taken off

The fact is, for us, Video Calls, "took off' quite some time ago, but they
have a particular time, place and function: We have a weekly video
conference with my parents, who are on the opposite coast from my wife and
I. We have a large screen, good speakers and fast, relatively reliable
Internet speed. We use iChat AV and the quality is superb - most of the time
the session is full-screen with little or no delay, so, we sit down with
coffee and chat with them as if they were across the living room coffee
table.

Like many communication mediums, there is a time and place. We've found over
the years that video calls are perfect for a weekly chat that is more social
in nature. Now that we can share photos and even screens at times, we've
also used it to update them on what we did during the week, and I sometimes
can help in a technical issue for my father. I think that this scheduled,
emotion-centric weekly 'reunion'
makes more sense than using videoconferencing for an ad hoc, quick business
call with a stranger.

As Wittgenstein said, "Don't ask for the meaning, ask for the use."

-David D.

30 May 2008 - 4:59pm
gretchen anderson
2005

I'll second Nancy's point. Research we've done points to a desire for
more of an "Eye of Fatima" type experience.

I'd also add that the etiquette of video calls is still awkward. I can
tell if you are tuning out, (or more likely, am nervous that you might
pick up on the fact their I'm multi-tasking), and it's hard to "end"
calls gracefully.

That said, corporate video calls is coming along and (anecdotally) I'm
certainly starting to experience more of them. But these are with
companies who've invested a lot in the systems.

Gretchen

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Nancy Broden
Sent: Friday, May 30, 2008 9:47 AM
To: IXDA list
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Why haven't video calls taken off

Add to these the fact that simply seeing the other person on the other
end of the line adds very little to the communication. Now, if I were
to see what you see, instead of just seeing you....

On May 30, 2008, at 9:34 AM, Peyush Agarwal wrote:

> Alexander,
> I'm not sure I agree with the notion of 'greedy interface' as the
> problem. I mean, it's the whole point when you do video calls, no?
>
> I think rather that there are 3 general issues with video phoning -
> 1. Technology - they are bandwidth heavy, and unreliable in terms of
> quality. Sometimes it's good other times choppy etc. It has to work
> like tv all the time from any location. Sort of how audio phoning
> works.
> 2. Logistics - maybe this is also technological, but it's too much
> hassle to sit in the right place, have the right lighting etc. to
> make it worthwhile. I remember when I first used webcams (low res,
> choppy etc.) the excitement of seeing someone from another part of
> the world was quickly overcome by constantly wanting to 'place' them
> such that I could be 'eye to eye' with them, and be able to see
> their face properly etc. Typically, lights behind the person that
> work fine as local ambient light are terrible for the person on the
> other end of the call - all they see is a silhouette.
> 3. Privacy - I think it would be just terrible if you HAD to use
> videoconferencing - I don't have to pat down my cowlick in order to
> speak over the phone today, or put on a tie etc.
>

--------------------------------
Nancy Broden
nancy.broden at gmail.com

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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3 Jun 2008 - 11:36am
Kristopher Kinlen
2008

http://www.engadgetmobile.com/2008/06/02/nokia-vp-video-calling-not-successful-because-it-turns-you-ugly/

Nokia says it makes you ugly!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=29620

3 Jun 2008 - 12:00pm
Peyush Agarwal
2007

Haha now THAT was unexpected. I guess I must be in the minority who are a. pretty confident they're not ugly, and b. don't care if others disagree :)

I think there is some truth to the unflattering wide-angle view one gets on cellphones at less than arm's distance, though I'm not convinced it's the overriding factor. The discussion on this link gives some other reasons that are pretty compelling if true - pricing, quality of video, loss of privacy, apparent inability to switch from audio-only to also-video mid-call, lack of standardized interoperability etc.

-Peyush

<http://www.engadgetmobile.com/2008/06/02/nokia-vp-video-calling-not-successful-because-it-turns-you-ugly/

Nokia says it makes you ugly!
>

3 Jun 2008 - 2:05pm
Kristopher Kinlen
2008

Considering the popularity of the evil bluetooth headset, maybe we
don't like holding the phone up. Video phones would require you to
not only hold the phone, but also hold it at a certain distance and
in a specific area with a specific angle so as to frame your face in
the camera.

Maybe we will see bluetooth headbands with little cameras hanging off
of them soon? I for one am excited about the possible new fashion
trend.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=29620

3 Jun 2008 - 1:56pm
Jerome Ryckborst
2007

Has anyone else noticed that pre-teen kids are less self-conscious or more comfortable with video cameras, and also more aware of the remote/asynchronous audience? I've seen some kids who, when the camera's on, do a great job of including the remote viewer along with those physically present.

Is this due to practice (webcam use, cell-phone video use)?

Are kids more practiced because they don't care about the cost of video? Because the parent/guardian's paying the bill?

-=- Jerome

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Kristopher Kinlen
Sent: June 3, 2008 2:36 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Why haven't video calls taken off

http://www.engadgetmobile.com/2008/06/02/nokia-vp-video-calling-not-successful-because-it-turns-you-ugly/

Nokia says it makes you ugly!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=29620

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

11 Jun 2008 - 1:04pm
Sachendra
2005

I'd like to thank everyone for responding. I've compiled the responses
in the blog post below

http://sachendra.wordpress.com/2008/06/11/why-havent-video-calls-mobile-video-telephony-taken-off/

It turns out the future of video calling isn't so bleak after all,
it's got a few things going for it... I'll be covering those in a post
FOR video calling in the next 2-3 days

Sachendra Yadav
http://sachendra.wordpress.com

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