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Skype's Mobile Conference Potential?

Last night I had a mind bender from a friend who said: "With our solution each Skype conferencee (each on a different continent) could be on a cell phone - and each one could be on a different continent to their PC-now there's a weird extension!"! It sounds pretty farfetched and I'm still trying to get my head around it. Yet effectively this is just one of the possible implications that may emerge from current progress.

PCPro gets the news out today heralding in Skype's new conference service, while Clay Shirky sums up my ramble from two days ago in a nice crisp short sentence. However, I think it runs deeper.

  • Today sees Skype claiming the accolade of the world's first IP-based conference-call service using peer-to-peer technology. PCPro
  • The biggest difference between VoIP and the circuit-switched phone network we've got is not going to be cheap phone calls. It's going to be ridculouly easy group-forming. Many-to-Many

  • Via Roland I know more than a few perked up their ears at the next link from Telepocalypse. This brief paper makes clear the emerging disruptive world of WiFi. When WiFi become mobile many new things happen and not only with mobility but also the handsets and who competes in that market.

  • You don't have to be a genius to see that low-latency plus high-bandwidth looks like a tasty recipe for next-generation IP-based voice apps. Voice is still the aťkiller app. But it is evolving once freed from the clammy dead hand of circuit telephony. Should enterprises start demanding end-to-end encypted voice, then Flarion can deliver it using off-the-shelf technology. Integrate presence, IM and voice a-la Skype? No problem. Anyone left with a faux-circuit network will be left spluttering. Telepocalypse
  • The cool thing about 802.20 is that it has "doppler tolerance" which means that unlike the currrent version 802.16, 802.20 can be used for mobile. Go Wireless ISPs and 802.20 go! Roland Tanglao

  • However that's only the tip of the iceberg. In all of the above we are only talking about new mobile solutions to the same old problem --- how can you talk while on the move:

    Voice Avatars:
    Last night I suggested we take a deeper look at Wave Market, while I've also had a few more thoughts about Flickr. The real voice applications are still to emerge. While I'm encrypted in conversation with Skype I think for the most part I pretty much sound like Stuart Henshall. Now imagine a different world. A mobile world where people are not identifiable by their live voice but rather by a voice avatar. You may never hear the real me if you are outside my direct social network. Peeling away layers of identity may involve exposing voice too. Think this is weird? Just think of the TV interview where the investigator wants to protect someone's identity. Extend that to conference calls you are in. Some may hear the real you others may not! This game is played in chatrooms around the world. Provide the same anonymities as text and watch for an explosion. Join a wireless chat channel in the Airport etc.

    Voice and Location:
    Similarly, as systems improve full stereo may become the norm. Total immersion in a game would enable me to hear where my friends are and where the danger is. I still want to play America's Army this way with my mates in the soundscape. In other situations walking towards one another in a crowd could be directed by sound.

    These last two items just begin to show new ways for rapidly forming groups and tying them into social networks. They are just one part of trying to solve the "always-on" connection questions and what it means to have an open line and varying degrees of presence no matter where you are. I'd also suggest we don't limit the exploration to the current paradigm. Small group conferencing via Skype is just the beginning. Playing music to the group while in conference might be the next item.... Might just give a reason to leave an open channel on.

    For those trying to learn more about Skype's conference call function a forum group put their experiences down in this pdf document. Skype Forum

    See also comments via Skype on future conferencing additions.

    Comments (1)

    Alexander Repty:

    Quote:"Similarly, as systems improve full stereo may become the norm. Total immersion in a game would enable me to hear where my friends are and where the danger is. I still want to play America's Army this way with my mates in the soundscape."

    If I remember correctly, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow will do something like this. Not 100% sure though.

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