Sometimes Things Don’t Turn Out as You Expected

I was chatting with a friend of mine this evening, using Signal, the encrypted app for cell phones that provides text messaging, voice calls, and two-way video calls.

No, that’s not me or my friend. That is a promotional image for Signal. But it looks about the same as our two-way video call of today.

For years, futurists claimed that some day we all would have two-way video phones. Indeed, we do. Signal, FaceTime, Duo, Skype, and probably a dozen or so other apps all offer 2-way-video calls today and they are available free of charge.

Still… it didn’t work out exactly as predicted. For instance, here is a woman talking on a movie producer’s vision of the future videophone in the 1955 short film The Future is Now:

Do you see any differences?
That doesn’t look like my smartphone!
Also, today’s video phones certainly don’t look like the one used by Jane Jetson:

7 Comments

One thing I always noticed in old tv shows or movies depicting video phones, is that the person on the screen had his or her eyes aimed at the person talking to if to the side. In reality they are facing a camera on their end so they wouldn’t be moving their eyes if they’re watching the person. Eyes are forward, like a news caster’s. If the head turns it appears odd. Even these images are that way.

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Many decades ago I was at an exhibition, Boys Scouts maybe, and they had a black and white “video phone” demonstration set up. I was in the Midwest, and spoke to a girl in Disneyland out in California. As you said, things don’t always work out as envisioned.

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Some once pointed out that with all the futuristic stuff on the Jetson’s, their phones were still dial phones. Can’t think of everything! 🙂

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got news for you. The videophones has been around for over 15 years now!
See these companies working for the Deaf in USA, Sorenson.com , zvrs.com , and they are mobile, too. The videophone that is sitting on my desk is 24 inch wide Samsung tv monitor. Some of the Deaf even have 32, 40 or even 50 inch monitors interchangeable with normal television. Even computer laptops, desktops, etc at work, too. No barriers at all. It’s you hearies kept your heads in sand as well as hanging up on us, treating us as if we’re telemarketers.
There are other companies in Canada, Europe and Asia. The Deaf has been using them as direct and video relay (as in interpreters). Even to talk with their hearing relatives.

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Products like Facebook Portal and Amazon Echo Show are taking us toward those big screen video call devices. While it doesn’t float in the air like the Jetson’s model, the Portals camera does follow you around the room.

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Technical question about Signal: The recent Frontline documentary on Facebook highlighted how foreign governments create bogus accounts and target users with “news” that works to divide opinion. This works effectively on those who use Facebook as a news source. Theoretically, could Signal be used in this same way?

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    —> This works effectively on those who use Facebook as a news source. Theoretically, could Signal be used in this same way?

    First, anyone who uses Facebook “as a news source” will always have problems. Facebook is a service that collects your private information and habits and resells the data. Any other use of Facebook is secondary and questionable. Facebook has always been full of fake news and the Facebook “news” about the 2016 and 2018 elections are perfect examples of that.

    I doubt if Signal could be used in the same way. First, everything on Signal is encrypted end-to-end. That is, not even the employees of Open Whisper Systems (the company that produces Signal) nor the servers used by Open Whisper Systems can decode and read anything sent over Signal. Second, Open Whisper Systems is a non-profit and does not collect or sell any information about its users. As stated on the Signal home page at https://signal.org/ “Signal messages and calls are always end-to-end encrypted and painstakingly engineered to keep your communication safe. We can’t read your messages or see your calls, and no one else can either.”

    So, is Signal perfect in every way? My guess is the answer is “no.” There is no piece of software that is ever perfect or ever totally bug-free. I suspect that technical issues will sooner or later be found in Signal and then will immediately be fixed by the software developers at Open Whisper Systems. Still, I am confident that Signal is better than most similar products produced by commercial companies and is much, much more secure than anything that is produced by Facebook. Signal does not deliberately spy on its users in the manner that Facebook does. Unlike Facebook, Signal and the employees at Open Whisper Systems try to NOT SPY on their users.

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