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April 23, 2019 - Advice and Strategy > Information Technology
Video Conferencing: From the Silver Screen to the Boardroom

In the last few years, video conferencing has become a common method for businesses to keep in touch with their employees. Several factors have contributed to increased popularity in video conferencing but mainly it is because it is an efficient method of communication that is becoming increasingly affordable.

The evolution of video communication technology has been interesting to observe and has fascinated screenwriters from the app promotion services and from the Hollywood's silent era right through to today. It is with this in mind that this post will take a look at the predictions movie makers have made with regards to video conferencing and measure how accurate they were.

Modern Times (1936)

Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp is a downtrodden factory worker in this classic of the silent era. Chaplin can be seen using a video conferencing system to communicate with the factory bigwigs.

What it got right: Unbelievably, early videophone technology was actually in production in Germany as early as 1936. Using mechanical televisions and traditional telephone lines, low quality video could be transmitted from one screen to another. It was never taken up as a serious means of communication though due to poor image resolution.

What it got wrong: The Little Tramp's videophone appears to be powered by an entire room full of cogs and pistons. Even the earliest video conferencing required far less technology than this.

Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977)

The Rebel Alliance are battling the Galactic Empire, Luke, Han Solo and their fuzzy pal Chewbacca help to save Princess Lea, Darth Vader looks cool in his cape and helmet… we all know the plot to this one. Something I always liked were the hologram-based video conferencing systems everyone used to communicate with each other.

What it got right: Hologram technology is currently being developed and is likely to be the next step in video conferencing.

What it got wrong: Hologram displays are unlikely to be mass produced until they look better than the blue, blurry images as used a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Demolition Man (1993)

Sylvester Stallone is cryogenically frozen in the dystopian future of 1996, yes really, and wakes up in the Orwellian future state of San Angeles circa 2036. Deceptive villain Dr. Raymond Cocteau (Nigel Hawthorn) keeps his associates informed of the Italian Stallion's efforts to thwart his evil plans via video conferencing.

What it got right: The use of video conferencing between company directors to discuss business matters has become very common.

What it got wrong: In Dr. Cocteau's boardroom, each external company director appears to have their own individual monitor embedded into a robotic swivel chair; this seems like a pointless waste of resources. In 2012 we already have the much more efficient function of screen-in-screen technology; meaning people from several different locations can all converse through one HD monitor.

Moon (2009)

Set in an ambiguous ‘near future', Moon follows the personal journey of Sam Bell, the lone employee at an automated mining facility on the moon. Video conferencing is used throughout the film with Sam conversing with his employers and his family back on Earth.

What it got right: Video conferencing from space is already happening. Anyone who has seen astronauts broadcasting from the space station via You Tube can testify to this.

What it got wrong: For a film set in the future the technology used by Sam looks rather clunky even by today's standards. Video conferencing is already relatively compact, neat and streamlined.

So, the screenwriters have had mixed results in their predictions of video conferencing technology but they have been accurate in their prediction of how prevalent it has become.

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