Beyond Business: Impacts of VoIP and Live Streaming on the family dynamic

VoIP and Live Streaming, in my opinion, have revolutionized the communication industry. Anyone with computer and internet connection can connect with anyone else on the planet, for real time voice and video communications. The clincher? Such tools require a few dollars and commodity internet access –nearly everyone can get in on the conversation.

Skype connects a family
Recently, an Uncle and Auntie of mine recently moved to the Middle East for a off country teaching assignment, in a city known for violence, assassinations and unrest. Yesterday, during a local family get together we were able to arrange a time to call them, and we piped over a video stream to them. We could hear their audio only. I was able to briefly jump into this real world communications with them, as they were half way around the world, and wouldn’t be returning to us anytime soon.

My cousin showed him around the house with the video camera, although the wireless network connection would sometimes drop, they got to experience a virtual tour of what we were doing. Although not perfectly setup, we continue to lower the barriers to communication in real time, and the medium gets richer with each passing year.

Live streaming the human life cycle
I recently spoke with Chris Yeh, the CEO of Ustream (live interactive video), he tells me that in addition to people broadcasting live births on the web, that families are live-broadcasting funerals. Morbid? Not really, some family members who couldn’t be at the service get to participate in the grieving process, in this virtual way to be with their family.

What’s next?
It’s just a matter of time before our traditional home entertainment systems become IP enabled, allowing for PC to TV real-time video and audio to be transmitted. It would be interesting to see the adoption of these tools each holiday season, year after year.

Has VoIP or Live Streaming impacted your family?

There’s so many examples of how these tools impact business, but have you had an experience where these tools impacted your personal or family life? VoIP, live video streaming, what? Share with me in the comments.