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Специальности: Программист
Лекция 19:

Video calling

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2. Read the text


Technological prophets have forecast the triumph of video calling ever since 1936, when Germany's Reichspost1Deutsche Reichspost - the official German national postal authority till 1945 launched the first public videophone service. But a flurry of announcements from technology companies suggests that its time may have come at last. Cisco unveiled a video-calling system for the living room called "umi telepresence". The same day Logitech launched a television set-top box2Set-top box - приставка that doubles as a videophone. Microsoft's new Kinect Xbox game console offers video conferencing.

The market for professional video gear is also in flux. Skype, a service that allows users to make calls from their personal computers (PCs), is moving into corporate territory by offering video conferencing, among other bells and whistles3Bells and whistles - ненужные свойства (программы). PCs from HP will soon come with video software.

Video communication is becoming more popular, in part because the technology is improving. Video calls accounted for about 40% of the 95 billion minutes that people spent on Skype in the first half of this year.

Video communication is spreading from one place to another. Having used it at home to bring Grandma and Grandpa into the living room so the kids can showcase their latest school project or model their Halloween costumes, people now feel more comfortable trying video communication at work. Most important, senior executives have warmed to the high-end telepresence4Telepresence – дистанционное присутствие systems sold by Cisco and others, boosting the use of the technology further down the corporate hierarchy.

Cisco sees telepresence in the home as the key to new video services for the consumer in areas such as health care, education and government services. Imagine showing the doctor the allergy reaction rash on your arm, spending an hour with an Algebra tutor or talking to the DMV clerk to process your driver's license renewal.

Cisco and Logitech want to build on this momentum, particularly in the home. Cisco's gear is the more daring because it is a dedicated video-calling system. The package includes a camera and a console. Users also have to pay $25 a month for unlimited calls. And they need a high-definition television set as well as a fast internet connection to get good results.

Yet despite all the progress, video communication is probably still not ready to take the world by storm. Most systems are not compatible: common technical standards are years away, as is a common video phone book. And video-calling may begin to encounter stiff resistance. They forecast that the growth of high-end telepresence systems will allow companies to keep more workers at their desks, saving 2.1m airline journeys per year by 2012 and cutting car-rental costs. But it is not clear that travelling salesmen, for example, will take to the technology.

Another open question is whether customers will plump for dedicated video-communication systems over those that also serve other purposes, such as a PC or a game console. Companies need both types: dedicated ones for important meetings and PC-based ones for everyday communication. But will consumers spend a few hundred dollars for an extra device? Then again, experts were equally sceptical when Cisco launched its executive telepresence systems.

Whatever system they pick, consumers will come up with new ways to use it. Already some families host "Skype dinners", with relatives calling in. Others never hang up, thus turning a display in the kitchen into a window on somebody else's home. Similarly, some firms have started to experiment with "virtual water-coolers", connecting their office kitchens by means of a permanent video link. Whether this improves productivity or simply encourages long-distance debates about football and "American Idol" is unknown.

Adapted from The Economist 7 October 2010

Cultural note.

  1. Cisco Systems, Inc. - американская транснациональная компания, разрабатывающая и продающая сетевое оборудование.
  2. Logitech - швейцарская компания, специализирующаяся на производстве периферийных устройств для персонального компьютера.
  3. DMV (Department of motor vehicles) - Управление дорожной безопасности и транспортных средств в США.
  4. American Idol - телешоу на телеканале FOX, основанное на популярном британском шоу Pop Idol, смысл которого заключается в соревновании на звание лучшего начинающего исполнителя в США.
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Дана Курмаш
Дана Курмаш

Записалась на курс Английский - 3. Не увидела стоимость

Елена Блинаева
Елена Блинаева


Светлана Кудинова
Светлана Кудинова