Interaction Design Association

Why haven't video calls taken off

Alexander Baxevanis
May 30, 2008 5:23am

Post a Response | Jump to Most Recent (10)

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

 
Peyush Agarwal
May 30, 2008 8:34am

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/

 
Nancy Broden
May 30, 2008 8:46am

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

 
Alexander Baxevanis
May 30, 2008 8:47am

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/

 
Petteri Hiisilä
May 30, 2008 8:53am

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
  •  
    Alexander Baxevanis
    May 30, 2008 9:02am

    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

     
    Johndan Johnson-Eilola
    May 30, 2008 9:14am

    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?

     
    David Drucker
    May 30, 2008 9:14am

    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

    david at drucker.ca

     
    Greg Edwards
    May 30, 2008 9:54am

    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.

     
    Gretchen Anderson
    May 30, 2008 1:59pm

    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

     
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