Saturday, April 07, 2007

Skype Video: Enabling Full-Color Lullabies from 1,000 Miles Away

When I became a dad, some aspects of my previous life came to a screeching halt. Some continued unabated. Still others mutated into a strange and heretofore unknown form. My fascination with technology & gear falls into this last category.

Sure, I still go gaa-gaa over the newest gadgets and grown-up toys, but suddenly I find myself having strong opinions about an entirely different set of gadgets:

  • I suddenly have strong feelings about a certain type of swaddling blanket that I consider to be superior.
  • If left unchecked, I will ramble on at length about why today's cradle toys put the toys of my youth to shame.
  • I gaze in wide-eyed wonder at the incredible absorption qualities of the modern diaper and its awesome next-generation Velcro straps.
I have become a gear-obsessed dad.

My appreciation for most of this stuff doesn't rise to the level of wanting to blog about it, but there is one technology whose utility rises above the rest from this parent's perspective: Skype Video. Instead of blathering on about how great Skype is, I'll permit the picture below to provide the bulk of the explanation:

Yes, that's an actual picture of four generations of my family on one screen during a video conference earlier this evening.

Yes, that's a technology built from the ground up to handle video conferencing (as opposed to other services that include video conferencing as an afterthought).

, that's a service that is 100% free.

According to Google Maps, my hometown is a short 1,385 mile drive from where I currently live, so suffice it to say that I've become accustomed to not seeing my family every weekend. Skype has shortened this distance for my family, letting my parents, my grandparents, my brother, and Steph's family (a short 2,936 mile drive away) interact with Katie in a way that just blows my mind.

Katie already responds to the screen, staring at the faces, reacting to their speech (and their occasional singing). I feel so fortunate that we've found this way of sharing her growth with my far-away family. I can't wait to see where we go from here.

(Incidentally, the camera that took that great screen capture is our new Fujifilm FinePix F30. Very affordable and I've never seen a point-and-shoot digital camera work so well in low light conditions.)

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