May 31, 2005 spout

Every PC Should Have A Camera, Mic + Stylus

I’ve been doing a lot of remote collaborative communications over the last decade. Email, IM and phone calls literally enable me to be an effective remote employee (along with my wit and charm : ). However, to take it to the next level as MS Communicator, MSN Messenger and Skype get real a/v conferencing and app-sharing features (that actually works through VPN and firewalls), every computer needs some extra equipment.

Most modern laptops come with built-in mics, but very few come with built-in cameras. Why should I have to use a strap-on webcam when the camera lens could be built right into the LCD screen? Plus, the mics and software really needs decent noise cancellation (MSN7 and Skype do this well, but not all apps do).

Still, I’ve got my phone, so I can live w/o audio and once I’ve already met someone, video is just a novelty, especially when compared with the power of app-sharing (it’s like you’re sitting right next to someone!).

The thing that I really need that I’m missing is for my computer, and everyone’s computer that I’m conferencing with, to have a stylus attached to their screen. The let’s just sketch something on the white board” is really the last remote collaboration frontier til we get some kind of fancy virtual presence” stuff going.

I don’t mean that every computer needs to be a Tablet PC. Frankly, I’m not very productive on a computer that doesn’t have a keyboard. But, I want to be able to sketch something right on my computer screen like a tablet can and instantly share it as I do so. Plus, and here’s the rub, I want everyone else to have a stylus, too. If they don’t, they’ll turn to the white board and I’m out of luck across the great divide.