Long-Distance Birthdays: India’s Prime Minister Appeared at a Party via Video Call, and You Can Too

long-distance birthday

The world’s most digitally advanced head of state is at it again. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi—he of the world record for most simultaneous video conferencing broadcasts—has used the technology to mark yet another occasion.

The Prime Minister recently used a video conference call to address the crowd at the 80th anniversary celebrations of the famous Brahma Kumaris family. Modi gave the opening greeting to thousands gathered for the international conference and cultural festival held in honor of the family that founded the spiritual movement that bears its name.

Modi’s continued willingness to telecommute to such events must be saving his government millions, and is an example other world leaders could stand to follow. As for you and I, we’re probably not required to address thousands at a huge 80th anniversary celebration, but we can certainly follow Modi’s example and use video conferencing to appear at the special occasions of our remotely-located loved ones.

A Virtual Happy Birthday

By “appear” I don’t mean a simple two minute FaceTime call from your smartphone, either—that’s not the way the leader of the second most populous nation on earth would do it.

In fact, it’s becoming more and more practical to buy one of the 3D video conferencing setups Modi is so fond of, and beam your entire being into the party. Musion will be happy to sell you one—you just need to get a local friend to smuggle all that gear into party HQ.

If, like me, you don’t have a dedicated cache of funds earmarked for a 3D video conferencing hologram lying about, there are more efficient ways to send your smiling face around the world.

Group Social Video Calling

A group video chat is ideal for a birthday party setting, and most of the major video calling platforms now allow for group chats of half a dozen or more callers. Even FaceTime is rumored to be considering a leap into the 21st century by allowing more than a mere 1-to-1 video chat.

Carefully planned, group chats can add a surprise element to the call by not informing the birthday boy or girl of just how many of their friends will be greeting them on the other end of the internet line.

Tell them you just want to catch up for a personal birthday chat, and then have them log on to a ready-made Google Hangout or Messenger conference call that has a dozen of their remote friends lying in wait. Messenger has been bragging that its new group chat function can accommodate 50 individual callers, so you can go all out.

But even that kind of potentially overwhelming greeting doesn’t really register as powerfully as it should over a smartphone. Time to think in-room.

Decorate Your Party with Interactive Video Calls

This idea works best if you have a lot of tablet owners on call.

Why not line the walls and halls of the birthday person’s home with a series of video conferencing-enabled computer tablets. Hang them like photo frames or leave them propped up against the impromptu bar. Now when the party gets underway you’ve got a series of digital portals that can be filled with the faces of video calling well-wishers. By arranging things ahead of time you could have them lined up like wedding guests at the tail end of the reception.

The tablets could be left on all night for other party-goers to strike up a cross-country, international, or intercontinental conversation whenever the mood struck.

Or you could use one of the new breed of video conferencing technologies that let you beam a two-way video call directly into, and from, your large-screen TV.

Again, employ a platform like Google Hangouts—should it continue to exist—and everyone who would love to be there but can’t can take a turn on center stage, and can shower the special someone with their own personal message of best wishes.

I’ve got a feeling Modi would opt for the large screen TV approach

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