partial recall

a blog of ideas, links, and musings.

The World Just Got Smaller…


Chatting with my father-in-law

My father-in-law and I recently purchased a small video camera (iSight) that can be mounted onto the top of our Apple computers. The purpose of the camera is so that we can both see and hear each other remotely using a combination of the camera and “instant messenger” chatting software that most of us have already used. We had a great time – both video and audio were really good – not choppy like I anticipated it might be. The video was a little fuzzy, but only when I had it fill the entire screen. Nonetheless, it was amazing! I felt like we were sitting across the table from each other. In fact, during another “chat” I put the camera on my laptop, and leveraging the wireless connection in my home, I was able to take my laptop around the house so my father-in-law could see home improvements, etc. from his home hundreds of miles away. Amazing!

Chatting with my father-in-law

Anyway, I was hoping to lure friends and family into getting one of these. There are a few hurdles – you need a high speed internet connection (no dialup) and your computer must be relatively new (you do not have to have an Apple Macintosh). Think of all the long distance costs you will save because chatting this way is free – only the cost of the high speed internet service (and the camera)!

This has been done in the business community for a while now for holding remote conference calls. For instance, CNN recently decided to use Apple’s technology to aid them in their efforts for real time remote reporting.

The psychotherapy profession should really start embracing the use of this technology in order to provide alternative services. For instance, what if a psychotherapist needs to see a family, yet one of the parents happens to be away for business during a planned session. Typically, the appointment would either be cancelled or it might be missing an important viewpoint if the psychotherapist decided to see the reminder of the family anyway. A certain number of counselors already do therapy by telephone or by email, but I think there are 2 limitations with these laternatives. First, doing email “therapy” tends to lend itself more to helping one individual, not many at once. Second, it is common knowledge that a majority of communication occurs nonverbally, so much is lost using the mediums I mentioned. However, using relatively inexpensive webcam technology could be something the profession needs to consider. The major concerns would involve the legal (insurance), confidentiality, security, and archiving issues, but I think these could be reasonably resolved.

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Arf on August 13, 2005 AT 09 pm

You’ve got to be kidding me. Video conferencing is far from being a new technology, and you write like you’re one of the first to discover it. Maybe you’d like to share your thoughts on the wheel with the world too?

By the way, the psychotherapy profession were using it and talking about it in 1996 ( so you’re only 9+ years behind there.

Rob Fay on August 14, 2005 AT 12 am


Thanks for your feedback. I do not disagree with you regarding my being late to the party, but I do disagree with you about how prevalent this technology is being used in the psychotherapy community. The technology may have been available and discussed in the psychotherapy community,but it is not necessarily being used widely.

Jason on August 15, 2005 AT 02 pm

It sounds like somebody didn’t have their Wheaties this morning (Arf). I also find it funny that Arf calls you out on your site but doesn’t leave a way of rebuttal except in this forum.

I think you have some good points Rob. I have thought about purchasing an iSight, but don’t have many friends that would purchase one as well. I do have plenty of friends that live abroad and having an iSight would be killer, but utilization is slim at best. $180 is a decent amount of cash to drop on something you’d only use maybe once a month.

Rob Fay on August 15, 2005 AT 10 pm

Thanks, Jason. Of course the technology is not new, but I finally got around to getting it. Fortunately, my father-in-law got an educational discount, so it was more like $130 or so for me. Since my wife is preggo we thought we could use the techology for family to see the little ones from afar. I’m not much of a phone person, but I find I’m more likely to talk if I can see the person…

Jason on August 18, 2005 AT 01 pm

The good ol’ “Education Discount.” With the cost of hardware and software today, it’s almost worth it to invest some cash into furthering ones education. The discounts you receive alone are worth the money put into an institution of higher learning.

I concur on not being much of a phone person. I remember going to Epcot Center when I was a kid and seeing the AT&T display with the video phones. Having an iSight is so tempting. I think I may add it to my Amazon wish list and see what Santa brings this year.

Rob Fay on August 18, 2005 AT 01 pm

The deals are on the software you can get via educational ties. When I was employed by the university, I got MS Office and Virtual PC for $10 because of a license agreement. Getting OS 10.4 for cheap wasn’t bad either.

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