Video Telephony Has Finally Arrived

Thanks to the power and connectivity of today’s mobile devices, video telephony will soon be everywhere

11 min read
Photo of various video telephony devices.
Photo: Dan Saelinger; Stylist: Wendy Schelah/Halley Resources

In the annals of technologies with long gestation periods, few can match video telephony. Punch’s Almanack published a cartoon illustrating the concept way back in 1878. Then, throughout the next century, the idea resurfaced repeatedly in science-fiction comics, motion pictures, pulp stories, and novels. In the animated TV series “The Jetsons,” starting in 1962, George’s boss, Mr. Spacely, regularly appeared on a display screen to show George the latest sprocket design. In a memorable scene from the 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, a weary space traveler videophones his daughter from a space station orbiting Earth.

Around the same time, videophones began showing up in the real world. AT&T announced its Picturephone service in 1964; the company even installed a Picturephone booth at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. But at US $16 per 3 minutes of jerky images, the service never caught on.

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Video Friday: Such a Showoff

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

2 min read
An animated gif showing a humanoid robot stumble and recover after doing a backflip

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

IEEE RO-MAN 2023: 28–31 August 2023, BUSAN, KOREA
RoboCup 2023: 4–10 July 2023, BORDEAUX, FRANCE
CLAWAR 2023: 2–4 October 2023, FLORIANOPOLIS, BRAZIL
RSS 2023: 10–14 July 2023, DAEGU, KOREA
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON
Robotics Summit & Expo: 10–11 May 2023, BOSTON

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Designing a Silicon Photonic MEMS Phase Shifter With Simulation

Engineers at EPFL used simulation to design photonic devices for enhanced optical network speed, capacity, and reliability

4 min read
Designing a Silicon Photonic MEMS Phase Shifter With Simulation

This sponsored article is brought to you by COMSOL.

The modern internet-connected world is often described as wired, but most core network data traffic is actually carried by optical fiber — not electric wires. Despite this, existing infrastructure still relies on many electrical signal processing components embedded inside fiber optic networks. Replacing these components with photonic devices could boost network speed, capacity, and reliability. To help realize the potential of this emerging technology, a multinational team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) has developed a prototype of a silicon photonic phase shifter, a device that could become an essential building block for the next generation of optical fiber data networks.

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