Since Apple iPad tablet computers have forward and rear facing video cameras, and are set up for slick and easy video conferencing, I have a proposal:
Make iPads available for check out in hospitals and nursing homes, so that patients can receive ‘hospital visits’ from their friends and family more frequently.
I bet that if a scientific study were conducted that patients would get well sooner and be happier if they could video chat with their friends and family for free, even if they didn’t own or know how to operated a computer. I suspect the video chatting on the iPad is so easy to use that nurses and doctors could be trained to be trainers in mere minutes.
I suspect there are already robust WiFi networks in care facilities, so the networking is already in place.
While we’re at it, install permanent video cameras at all funeral homes so people can attend even if too far away to travel.
For that matter, install video cameras at churches and other places where weddings take place, so more people can attend weddings.
For an extra dose of ‘being there’ somebody could create a holder for an iPad that would look sort of like a person from the sholders up. Where the face would be, place the iPad. This iPad holder could be clipped to the back of a chair or bench.
This way a church, wedding venue or funeral home might have 10 ‘remote seats’ available, where one iPad equals one seat. When someone is occupying a seat at home, their face is shown full screen on the remote iPad. In this way, the physically present attendees can see the faces of the remote guests, and the relatives will be comforted that more friends and family could attend.
Since all these iPads cost money, I suppose it would be OK for wedding and funeral venues to charge extra for these virtual seats. But I would say just give them away at first, to get people hooked on the concept. It’s such a far out idea I am doubtful people would pay until they had seen it done at another event.
I read once that when the grocery shopping cart was invented and placed in stores that nobody touched them. The proprietor had to hire pretend shoppers to push them around as if they were really shopping. That educated actual shoppers, who began to use the carts themselves for real. I think something similar might be required to get this idea off the ground. It might even be necessary to hire fake guests who do not know the wedding party or the deceased, to virtually attend the wedding or funeral, cry and be present.
I’ve read that in Japan there are businesses that rent actors to attend weddings in person to give the impression the bride and groom have more friends than they really do. So there is a precedent for fakery like this.
I think the idea of virtually attending important life events is a good one. Especially going forward with jet fuel being so expensive and security standards getting stricter. It just isn’t a great idea to fly all over the planet for all these events, and such travel I predict will one day become politically incorrect.
There are so many ways to make my idea more like being there. The iPads could be mounted on motorized tripod mounts the remote user could adjust, so people could look to their sides and say hello to real people. The iPad has a camera on the back already, so people could see who was sitting behind them. Maybe two iPads could be mounted back to back so that people sitting in the back could see who was sitting up front in the virtual seats.
Lots of people miss lots of important events. My idea is much more social than simply installing some anonymous cameras that might be security cameras as far as the attendees are aware. With my idea, people present physically can interact with people present virtually.
I dub my idea FaceSeat.
Of course, this concept is applicable to zillions of events beyond weddings and funerals, but at first I would focus on these big markets — a lot of people marry and die in the world.
With the provocative name FaceSeat I could get sued by Apple and FaceBook at once. Think of the stunning PR that would result – instant mind share. If Oprah [Winfrey] still had a popular daytime television show, I’d be on it within days of the lawsuits being filed.
PS — This is just a wacky idea I’m writing on my blog! I am not jumping into to the videoconferencing industry. If someone has already thought of and published my idea, I’d like to know about it so I can update this post.