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How Video Conferencing Changed Society

Video Conferencing Origins

When video conferencing was made possible through advances in technology, it was mostly thanks to video compression. People had the hardware to make this possible, as lifesize and larger than life screens were very common in movie theaters. However, videos could not be shared via the Internet because they had impossibly large bandwidth. While people understood how to use voice communications, there simply wasn't the proper technology to begin video conferencing until the bandwidth of the videos could be compressed. In the 1990s, compression technologies allowed video conferencing through the Internet, and free video chat via the Internet was quickly on its way. This became more popular in the 2000s as services like Skype and iChat made it possible to talk to anyone with an Internet connection via low-quality video standards. 

Changes in Technology

As video conference software improved, these video chat services became some of the best ways to communicate. The technological improvements were swift and advanced. Set up right in the computers were their own webcams in order to expedite video communications. This practice began in high reaching government offices and military activity, but the technology soon reached high-level business personnel. The improvements in technology reached mobile devices quickly, allowing video chats via cell phone as early as 2010. The improvements in video compression not only allowed for video chats via the Internet and wireless Internet, video chatting was now possible through cellular data as well. This led to the development of mobile applications that allowed for group video chatting and even live-streaming of televised events and movies. 

Social Applications

While the video conference movement became popular through computers and mobile devices, many web services like Skype and Google began connecting people all over the world through video chatting applications. Instead of WiFi allowing for International calls and texts, it now allowed for videotelephony to other countries. Simple web services now connected loved ones from both hemispheres as long as they had an account and video chat plugin capabilities on their computer. This technology was popularized by random chat sites on the Internet such as Omegle and Chat Roulette, which gave people from all over the world the chance to interact with strangers anonymously via video chat. Privacy risk aside, these shed light on the new video chat capabilities. The latest in mobile applications even allow for group video chat between parties from multiple places. 

Business Applications

While video conference applications changed the social experience, they also led to drastic changes in small businesses and large businesses. Hosting meetings in person had often become a hindrance for businesses that had employees on different schedules or in different cities. As businesses moved toward the realm of remote employees or employees from different cities, video chat made this a feasible business plan. With applications that cross platforms from computers and mobile devices like Zoom chat, all employees need to do is login and click the link for the meeting. Once everyone has clicked the link, the meeting begins and all parties can see and hear everyone involved. For companies with employees that are located in other cities, countries, and time zones, these meetings via video chat are the closest they can get to in-person contact. Many companies also achieve high ratings in Customer Relations Management, or CRM, because of video chat capabilities. Face to face interaction with customers, even via video chat, is more effective than follow-up emails and texts. 

Future Applications

As video conference technology becomes more advanced, the devices and applications are following suit. This technology is quickly going to change the landscape of society from a social, education, and business standpoint. Socially, video chatting is so convenient that many people prefer it to leaving the house to attend hangouts. This could also lead to appointments via video chat, such as a doctor's visit over the Internet instead of face to face. From an educational standpoint, tutoring will be more available via video chat, along with remote teaching. Using some sort of remote teaching procedure could actually allow for teachers to miss class due to minor sicknesses and, instead of having a substitute, simply video call the classes to keep them on task. Video conferencing has also made it easier for businesses to hire new candidates because of applications like Google Hangouts. With these apps, you can schedule video chats or text conversations to interview a job applicant in real-time instead of working around complicated schedules and taking a plane flight for an in-person meeting. 

From its inception in the 1980s to its modernized tech and devices of today, video conferencing has changed the world in many areas, including socially, educationally, and economically. 

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