The eyes don’t have it.

Making eye contact is an important part of communication, but it’s not easy to do when you are video conferencing.  I’ve been playing around with Google Hangouts recently, meeting with just one other person, and it’s very strange not being able to look at each other directly.  I’ve experienced this odd sensation before in group video calls, but it seems somehow weirder when it’s just two of us.

I can look at my colleague’s face on my screen but she’s not looking at me; she’s looking at her monitor. The only way I can look at her is to look directly into the camera, which sits atop my monitor, but then that’s not looking at her at all, though it may appear so on her end.

What we need, of course, is a camera that is literally embedded invisibly in the screen.  Apple filed a patent for such a thing in 2009 but I don’t know where that stands.  I figure that if it worked, we’d know about it by now.  Seems like a great challenge to post on innocentive.com. In the meantime, considering all the wrinkles, it might be better to skip the face-time altogether and just share a document or two!

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