While we love a good running meme as much as the next editor, especially at CES (see: booth babes, presentation gaffes, flippant executives and tables full of toothbrushes that play MP3s and other “must-have” devices), let’s level. Amidst all the noise being generated about 3D everything, eReaders and Google’s Nexus One, perhaps the most important news of all is being buried: After years of delays and stumblong blocks, accessible videoconferencing is about to invade your living room.
Thanks to inroads being made by Skype and sets with inherent support for video phones (e.g. Toshiba’s upcoming Cell models), grandparents won’t just potentially soon have the opportunity to see their progeny firsthand, even from 1000 miles away. You’ll also be able to cost-effectively reconnect with friends and family overseas and enjoy the expression on a buddy stationed in Iraq’s face as you gleefully gab away. Which is to say that more exciting than such whiz-bang gadgetry’s actual iplementation is its human potential, which threatens to change the way we all communicate, or conduct business virtually. Take a second, close your eyes, and see if you can imagine dating services that let you share a bottle of wine with a beautiful stranger in real-time, despite living in two distant cities, or giving professional-looking presentations to clients and conducting webinars right from your basement. Dreamy (and a little creepy), isn’t it?
While we’re still years off from seeing such capabilities becoming ubiquitous in American homes, the potential is endless – a fact we can’t stress enough, or be more enthusiastic about. So we beg you: Spare a second between all the onslaught of news bytes surrounding new smartphones, in-car technology and tablet PCs to think of the children. And, of course, all the parents, professionals and everyday folks just like ourselves who’ll soon find themselves closer and more connected than ever… Or, for that matter, at least able to play real-time games of hot or not.