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.

  • Lisa

    I moved to the Middle East last month and have been using Skype to keep in touch with my family and friends almost daily. I was here for a year 5 years ago, and I remember limiting the amount of time I spent on a call and who I would call because I was only able to make calls from my cell phone and despite a decent rate it was still expensive. VoIP’s ability to provide cheap rates and deals on the Internet has definitely made a significant difference with my staying in touch this time around. Also, I think that VoIP pioneer, Jeff Pulver has been pushing the adoption of PC to TV real-time video and audio, so it will be interesting to see how his involvement impacts the rate of adoption that you mention.

  • Lisa, great example thanks.

  • Jia

    Ever since I moved to the U.S. two years ago, I became a heavy user of Skype and MSN to keep in touch with my family in China. My grandpa and ma were amazed when they first seeing me on the PC screen while talking with them. What’s even more interesting is that they immediately said: “It must be really expensive. We’re all Ok and you could hang up.” I laughed out and responded:”It’s all free and we could talk all day long without any extra penny.” They looked at each other and said simultaneously:”Are you serious? Hmmn, it should be impossible.” 😛

  • These are also examples of why it will be difficult for companies to completely block access to online networking sites — people get so used to open communications they want the same capabilities even when they are “behind the firewall.”

  • Dave

    We’re going to use Skype and Ustream to try to bring back something a little broader than family, but just as important — community.

    Local radio is dead. Big companies shut down the last real-time local medium by buying them up and using them to rebroadcast big-sister-station music and national talk shows. I live and my web new business lives in just such a community, a small city without a daily newspaper or local radio station.

    I love IM chats and Skype and now, Ustream because they can help people reconnect. We’re going to use it to bring back big chunks of local radio, such as local high school sports, local meetings and events, and talk and interview forums. Adding Skype and IM to the mix allows us to create a community around those web broadcasts, so people can take part directly and easily.

    It’s not quite what you asked for, but I thought you might be interested.

  • Thanks Dave, this is very insightful. I hope that you can use these tools to their full ability.

  • David

    Here is something new in VOIP. Check it out.

    http://www.clearspring.com/widgets/487ece74b5bd05a1.

  • Impressive piece of information, let me elaborate more on VoIP. Voice over Internet Protocol has been around since many years. But due to lack of sufficient and affordable bandwidth it was not possible to carry carrier grade voice over Internet Protocol. But since the arrival of low cost internet bandwidth and new speech codecs such as G.729, G.723 which utilizes very low payload to carry carrier class voice it has recently been possible to leverage the true benefits of VoIP. G.723 codec utilizes only 6 Kbps (Kilo Bytes/sec) which is capable of maintaining a constant stream of data between peers and deliver carrier grade voice quality. Lets put this way if you have 8 Mbps internet connection, by using G.723 codec you can run upto 100 telephone lines with crystal clear and carrier grade voice quality. I am also a user of VoIP and have setup a small PBX at home. Since I have discovered VoIP I have never used traditional PSTN service.

    Dear readers, if you have not yet tried VoIP I suggest that you try VoIP technology and I bet you will never want to use the traditional PSTN phone service ever again. VoIP has far more superior features to offer which traditional PSTN sadly cannot offer.

    Also It has recently been possile to carry Video alongwith VoIP by using low payload video codecs. I cannot resist to tell you that by using T.38 passthrough and disabling VAD VoIP can carry FAX transmission, but beaware FAX T.38 passthrough will only work when using wide band protocols such as G.711, a-Law and u-Law.

    By using ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter) which converts VoIP signals into traditional PSTN you can also using Dial-up modems to connect to various dialup services. I wont go in to the details what VoIP can offer, to cut my story short VoIP is a must to have product for every business and individual.

    How VoIP Works

    When we make a VoIP call, a communication channel is established between caller and called party over IP (Internet Protocol) which runs on top of computer data networks. A telephony conversation that takes place over VoIP are converted into binary data packets streams in real time and transmitted over data network, when these data packets arrive at the destination these are again converted into standard telephony conversation. This whole process of voice conversion into data, transmission and data conversion into back voice conversation takes place within less than few milliseconds. That is how a VoIP is call is transmitted over data networks. I hope that now you understand basics of how a VoIP call takes place.

    What are speech codec's and what role codec plays in VoIP?

    Speech codec play a vital role in VoIP and codec determines the quality and cost of the call. Let me explain you what exactly VoIP codec’s are and how they work. You may have heard about data compression, or probably you have heard about air compressor which compresses a volume of air in enclosed container, VoIP codec’s are no different than a air compressor. Speech codec’s compresses voice into data packets and decompresses it upon arrival at destination. Some VoIP codec’s can compress huge amount of voice while maintaining QoS which means use this type of codec will cost less because it will consume just a fraction of data network. Some codec’s are just not capable of encoding huge amount of voice they simply consume huge amount of data networks bandwidth hence the cost goes up.

    Following is a list of VoIP codec’s along with how much data network bandwidth they consume.

    * AMR Codec
    * BroadVoice Codec 16Kbps narrowband, and 32Kbps wideband
    * GIPS Family – 13.3 Kbps and up
    * GSM – 13 Kbps (full rate), 20ms frame size
    * iLBC – 15Kbps,20ms frame size: 13.3 Kbps, 30ms frame size
    * ITU G.711 – 64 Kbps, sample-based Also known as alaw/ulaw
    * ITU G.722 – 48/56/64 Kbps ADPCM 7Khz audio bandwidth
    * ITU G.722.1 – 24/32 Kbps 7Khz audio bandwidth (based on Polycom's SIREN codec)
    * ITU G.722.1C – 32 Kbps, a Polycom extension, 14Khz audio bandwidth
    * ITU G.722.2 – 6.6Kbps to 23.85Kbps. Also known as AMR-WB. CELP 7Khz audio bandwidth
    * ITU G.723.1 – 5.3/6.3 Kbps, 30ms frame size
    * ITU G.726 – 16/24/32/40 Kbps
    * ITU G.728 – 16 Kbps
    * ITU G.729 – 8 Kbps, 10ms frame size
    * Speex – 2.15 to 44.2 Kbps
    * LPC10 – 2.5 Kbps
    * DoD CELP – 4.8 Kbps

    Switch to VoIP Today and you will never want to use traditional PSTN ever again.

    Thanks

    -Imran

  • Skype really helps people save money, but you can try Vbuzzer, which is way to much cheaper, and the call is qualit as good, if not better, as Skype.