Forget Video Conferencing, How About Video Dining?

from the sit-around-the-vast-virtual-table dept

There have been all sorts of advancements in video conferencing technology over the past few years, with Cisco famously launching their super expensive Telepresence system recently, that sets up a huge roundtable, with half the table being screens showing people sitting at a similar table somewhere else in the world. By why waste all that technological advancement on something as mundane as meetings? Why not have it do something a bit more useful, like allowing you to share dinner with your parents who live a thousand miles away and miss you terribly (they do, really)? Apparently has-been consulting firm Accenture is trying to repurpose some of that fancy video conferencing equipment they convinced plenty of corporations to buy over the last couple of decades and are now pitching a system that would do something similar for the dinner table, allowing distant (in space, not blood) relatives to share a meal together virtually with a big screen, some cameras and some speakers. I’m sure it sounds great for many people… but I can just imagine the excuses kids who purposely moved far away from their parents will start having to come up with to keep the virtual dinner visits to a minimum.

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Comments on “Forget Video Conferencing, How About Video Dining?”

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Daniel (profile) says:

Not going far enough.

This is obviously only the start of a GREAT way to “Be There” for your family – all we need to do is make the units portable.

Imagine, dad has a unit at work, the family has a unit in the car. Little billy has a ball game – just unpack the unit in the bleachers and Dad doesn’t have to come home to “Be There!” Now he won’t miss out on the school play and the thrill of taking the kids camping is just a mouse click away!

How’s that for technology bringing the family together?

CHL instructor (profile) says:

Re: Not going far enough.

“How’s that for technology bringing the family together?”

Reminds me of a story by Isaac Asimov about a planet that used video technology to avoid all physical contact — the logical extreme of this idea. They (d)evolved to a point where the entire planet had fewer than 1000 residents who each lived alone in large estates tended by robots. The residents became so averse to physical contact that they would commit suicide to avoid it.

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Light Speed says:

Re: Re: Not going far enough.

I don’t understand this comment. Connecting 6 billion PC’s will bring the world closer together, and connecting famililies that do not live in the same city over the dinner table is a great concept. You can do it now with a flat screen in your dining room, skype (other)….it will only get better, utimately affordable and in high definition.

Anonymous Coward says:

I consider this technology retarded when it comes to family interaction. They’re missing the whole point of actually being together. Sure it has its good points, but excusing a workaholic father and/or mother because they can just “video in” to check on the family? That is the definition of pathetic. There is no substitute for physical interaction. A video screen is cold and impersonal, no matter which way you twist it. Just try giving your kids a hug over a video screen, or tuck a kid into bed, or hold them close when they’re scared. Basically this technology has the potential to turn your family into a corporation, which is totally the wrong idea. Again, it has its good points, but my point is that it can easily be abused. You need to stop and think before you jump on all the latest gadgets. I think a lot of us would be a lot better off with less technology (and being a computer geek, that says a lot coming from me).

If you want a true family experience, go visit an Amish colony in Pennsylvania sometime. I think you’ll be surprised at what their true reasons are for the way they live. They are not anti-tech or anti-modern, but rather pro-family. Albeit it’s a bit of an extreme approach, but they are against anything that will pull their family apart. Things like vehicles, radios, TVs, computers, etc., all play a part in separating family members from each other, so they choose to avoid them. They don’t require stupid fashion trends in order to work together and be a family, so they wear traditional clothes. They do have electricity for things like milking equipment in barns, and I know of one house in particular that has electricity in order to run life-support equipment for a sickly child who needs it to live (again, things that keep the family together). Compared to them, most Americans don’t know the meaning of the word “family” anymore.

PhysicsGuy says:

Not going far enough.

Now he won’t miss out on the school play and the thrill of taking the kids camping is just a mouse click away!

excellent, dad can learn how to feed a continuous loop… you know, like that movie with the bus… the one that can’t go below 50 or it blows up… i think it was called “the bus that couldn’t slow down” 😛

JB says:


I know this is only partly related, but for what reasons do you say that Accenture is a “has-been consulting firm”? I know this particular idea seems a little off the wall and I cannot see the interest, but the company in general is doing very well.

Accenture was just named the top systems integrator worldwide ahead of IBM Global Services as well as #1 in worldwide HR outsourcing, has been consistently beating market estimates, and just posted record quarterly revenues (and making me some money as the stock goes up).

I am not saying they are perfect as they have also had their share of troubles recently, but with overall performance as mentioned above, I just do not think they can be called a has-been.

disclaimer: as of this writing, I do own stock in ACN

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