I’m a big fan of simple, as long as simple does one useful thing well, and doesn’t cost too much. SeePort’s Virtual Windows, announced at DemoFall 2010, may meet those criteria (the price hasn’t been announced yet, that’s coming, I’m told, at the January Consumer Electronics Show, but is likely to be under $150).
The concept for Virtual Windows is indeed simple. It looks like an electronic picture frame, but it contains a camera and microphone. You pair your window with someone else’s for instant communication. Set this electronic picture frame on a counter looking out into the room—your kitchen, for example. Set up another in your elderly parent’s home, perhaps, or in your child’s college dorm room (OK, bad example, no college student would want their parents to be able to stalk them quite so closely.)
You can leave it on; grandma can say hi to your kids when they’re passing by on their way back from the refrigerator. Or you can connect by tapping the touch screen. Or you can make it simple on one end, but tap into the “window” on the other through an iPhone. In the video above, company founder Lauren Elliot tells me why he thinks this is going to be a great product.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.