It’s the only way some of us can even conceive of the internet of the future.
It’ll be faster.
We’ll download entire HD movies in seconds.
There’ll be no such thing as low signal strength or lag times.
We’ll instantly stream live video, social media, and online gaming simultaneously, switching back and forth between media as fast as our attention spans demand. But the value of a super-fast connection is measured in more than just speed–it’s about moving information at a volume and a consistency that that will make possible applications and uses of the internet we have yet to even imagine.
In the specific example of group video calling, one of the heaviest and most cumbersome uses of the internet, higher broadband speeds mean clearer visuals, near life-like frame rates, and more intuitive technology.
And it could also mean breaking free of the physical limitations of our current hardware.
How Fast Can the Internet Get?
So what kind of speeds are we talking about when we project these super-fast internet connections of the future?
At the research and development level, German scientists recently showed they could sustain speeds of one terabit per second on existing fiber networks. To repeat, that’s not under unachievable lab conditions, that’s using the stuff that’s already buried under the ground.
That’s 1,000 times faster than Google Fiber promises, and bear in mind Google’s speeds are so great the company actually stands a chance of breaking the current monopoly of the U.S.’s major providers.
For further comparison, surfing the net at a terabit per second is 20,000 times faster than the best average speeds currently available in major centers in the U.S.
In simpler terms, you could download an entire HD-quality season of Game of Thrones in 1 second. That’s comically, ludicrously fast.
So how would that speed affect the current video calling technology?
Group Video Calling at Warp Speed
There are a number factors at play when creating and sustaining high internet speeds, and each play a role in determining the quality of your current group video chat.
- The processing power of your personal device or in-room VC setup
- The protocols, or rules, which govern the efficiency with which data is sent (what the German scientists mastered, along with counterparts in the UK)
- The quality of your physical network, be it optic fiber or copper wire, or a mix of both
- The servers that house and exchange the information you’re transferring
Get all those aspects working in concert with a little evolution though, and you could have sturdy HD performance on mobile devices, automatic camera movement in small rooms, and dynamic presentation and 3D rendering for social applications.
Currently, when you sit down to a group call the experience is shared only on the scale of the lowest participant’s resources. You may have the latest body scanning technology, but it doesn’t make a difference if two of your guests in the room are stuck in a Skype chat window
With universally high volume connections you’ll be able to use every trick currently available to only the highest paying commercial clients to turn a typical video meeting into an immersive, free-flowing group discussion that employs multimedia, virtual reality, and rich audio and visuals.
But it’s the applications and features that have yet to surface that will really take us places once super-fast connections become the norm.
A Whole New Way to Make a Group Video Call
Again, it’s not just speed we’re primarily talking about here, its bulk. The real goal of pushing internet speeds to the limit isn’t to reduce movie download times from minutes to seconds, or movie streaming from HD to Ultra HD.
It’s about ‘future-proofing’ information networks so that the applications not yet even in development have room to grow and space to play.
That means future group chats could present everyone in holographic-style 3D. With the data streaming in at unheard of rates, everyone could lounge about a virtual environment, moving freely while the bytes are churned in silence by the laptop you’re no longer trapped within.
You could stage your meeting in a third-party destination no one actually inhabits. Friends gathering to watch a football game could meet up in some future bar that has a dedicated room for remote VC projections.
By connecting your video call with smart objects in the real world, everyone could watch the same rapid-fire selection of songs, video clips, and live streams, each sharing their own favorites on the TVs and wall-mounted displays that occupy their friend’s houses.
And you’ll be able to host far greater numbers of video callers, thanks to the improved data crunching power. Could you one day fill an entire theater with virtual video callers for a private, end-of-year company get together at the opera in Italy?
The super-fast web is going to make future group video calls as personal, interactive, and dynamic as any conversation you’d find yourself in at a real-world gathering. Actually, it’ll be even better because you’ll each have the power of an entire globe of internet possibilities built into your conversation.
Image Source: Flickr CC User Savannah River Site