Dreaming of a Video Christmas

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Cisco and Packet8 are brightening the holidays for hospitalized children with live videophone visits from Santa this Christmas. Cisco announced their video visits last week and Packet8 just put out the news today.

Using the two company’s videophones, young patients will be able to see and chat with Santa at his “North Pole” workshop. Cisco’s version features one-button Santa calling. And both companies are following up the calls with gifts for the children.

“The fact that these children can actually see and interact with Santa, rather than just speak with him, makes a huge difference,” said Packet8 Chairman and CEO Bryan Martin in a Dec. 6 press release. “Children can also point at and see specific toys and attractions located throughout Santa’s workshop.”

Packet8 leads the pack in videophone technology. The company’s components were used in AT&T’s Picturephone, which debuted at the New York World’s Fair in the 1960s and was last seen in a 1992 incarnation.

The Picturephone never caught on with subscribers. Some of the reasons may be that callers had to reserve time at a special Picturephone location and needed help from a “helpful Picturephone attendant.” Another factor was likely the price: $16 to $27 for three minutes. That’s about what a frugal family of four of that era spent on groceries for a week.

Take a look at the original Picturephone brochure “Seeing by Telephone: The Picturephone Story.”