I have been wanting to video conference as long as I can remember. Maybe it was the video phones from the Bond movies, but I’ve always thought that video connections were cool. I dreamed of the day that I could pick up a phone and actually see the person I was talking to. When broadband Internet finally landed a few years back, I was hoping that my fantasies of being able to talk to friends via the web would finally be realized. Unfortunately, I never found a solution that worked well, but a friend of mine may have found the holy grail of web video.
I have tried just about every video software out there. Microsoft’s NetMeeting, CUSeeMe, Yahoo’s SuperWebCam and everything in between. Could I see video? Sure, but the experience wasn’t great and adding audio to the mix didn’t make things any better. For my web site, I opted for a simple snapshot program that uploads a photos once every minute. You can see it on the webcam page.
This desire for video conversation has come to a head now that I live in Nashville. I only get to see my buddies from Baton Rouge, my home town, about once a year and with my other good friends scattered all over the globe, it’s becoming something of a necessity. One of my best friends, Dan is moving to Guam in February, yes I said Guam, and now he’s just as interested in video conferencing as I am. He currently works for an undisclosed government agency and with the fiscal quarter coming to a close, he was charged with spending what he could of the remaining budget money. Don’t you just love the way governments work? Since his department deals with video, he purchased a D-Link DCS-2100+ and gave me a taste of how it works. Oooooooooohhhhhhh man was it nice. 😛
The DCS 2100 is different from your regular webcam in that it doesn’t require a pc in order to operate. In addition it’s a much nicer camera that features on board MPEG 4 compression and a built in web server. On top of all this, it’s wireless, so you just turn it on and it’s ready to go on your Wi-Fi network. Dan pointed me to the IP for his firewall and in no time I had a webcam image streaming video AND sound. I had him on the phone, so we could see just how much delay there was and it was almost nil. I was completely blown away. We played with different settings and broadcast bandwidths, but I have to say that this camera did a fantastic job – it was as if he was in the next room. D-Link has a live demo, but it doesn’t have the sound on, so it’s only a taste of what this thing can do.
Needless to say, I want one. Actually, I want about 6 of them. 🙂 I can see placing these cameras in various places around the house and using them to monitor all sorts of stuff. It’s motion sensitive, so I can see setting up one over the front door and being able to see who’s there from my office upstairs. The possibilities are endless, but alas my wallet is not. These cameras run about $350, so it’s not something that that I can easily buy a six pack of. Our plan is that both Dan and I will have one of these babies in our offices when he moves to Guam in February. The end result is that it will be as if we are in the same office even though he’ll be 7632 miles away.