Creative Uses of Video & Web Conferencing

by : Dan Richmond

What you can do with web and video conferencing is limited only by the extent of your imagination. Businesses are using web conferencing to conduct staff meetings, and families have employed this new technology to "attend" family functions in far away locales. Pushing the envelope even farther are various professionals, companies, media people, and entrepreneurs who are beginning to communicate with their clients in ways that were undreamt of ten years ago.

Radio stations have long been enhancing their programs by interacting with their listeners. First, there were call-in shows where listeners used the telephone to request songs to be played or even to be interviewed on air. Interactivity was stepped up when stations were able to receive e-mails from their listeners and to offer websites with text, photos and audio files. Now a station in Houston, Texas has become one of the first to integrate video conferencing with live radio programming.

Listeners to Mike Garfield's High-Tech Texan Show® simply click on a special link from his home page, enter their name, click 'accept' and they are part of a video conference. Listeners with cameras can be seen by Garfield and other listeners. Those without cameras can watch as the show unfolds.

"I was blown away from the start and now that I see what I can do with promotions and interactivity on my radio show, I am even more excited," enthused Garfield who explained that, "Instead of just talking about new gadgets, I can show them live to listeners while they watch via the web. And since this technology can also be used as a two-way videoconference, I can open up the show to new concepts. I have held radio interviews where my listeners can see my guests."

The key to Garfield's ability to connect with his audience via video conferencing are new web based conferencing applications that do not require any software downloads and can be accessed regardless of which operating system is installed on the user's computer.

This new ease-of-use has also been a boon to professionals who are using video conferencing to do things that they couldn't previously do. Realtors are now able to show a house to a prospective buyer and even the buyer's relatives who may live in another city, state or country using web-based video conference software. Lawyers have even begun to make depositions to courts over the Internet, rather than traveling to another city to deliver their statements.

Other uses of video conferencing include the lucrative auction business. Large auction houses have already opened up some of their auctions to bidders around the world who view the objects for sale via a video conference, and make their bids through the same Internet link. Where large auction houses tread today, small auctioneers are sure to follow, and it is now possible for Ebay sellers to display their wares online and show more features of the product using a web-based video conference format.

As more companies and individuals begin to get used to online web and video conferencing the list of uses of this interactive technology will only get longer and more interesting.