Tag Archives: video conferencing

Video Chat Creates Background Bonanza

With everyone staying at home to avoid Covid-19, video conferencing and chat has exploded over the past two weeks as families and friends look for new ways to stay in touch. Not everyone lives in a house out of Homes and Gardens or Wallpaper, so many of the chat apps have the ability to put a virtual background in the picture to disguise the clutter and detritus of daily life.

To further alleviate the boredom, this has led to an explosion of fun backgrounds from big name companies. Pixar has released a bunch of them on Twitter, including scenes from ToyStory, Up, Finding Nemo and one of my personal favourites, Cars. Here’s a selection – head on over to Pixar’s Twitter feed for more and to download the fullsize images.

The backgrounds tend to work best with a green screen, which I admit, defeats the purpose of simply being able to cover up a messy view, but Zoom on the iPad does a surprisingly good job on the iPad without any kind of special setup.

It doesn’t take much detective work to find plenty of others, from the bridge of the Enterprise to the Simpson’s sofa, there’s something for everyone.

The virtual background feature is enabled via Zoom’s web portal, though the image is actually set from within the Zoom app itself. and there are full instructions here.

The feature is currently on available on PCs, Mac, Linux and iOS. Sorry Android folks.


Biscotti TV Phone with Google Video Chat

Biscotti LogoBiscotti‘s TV phone is a small camera unit that sits on top of your big screen TV, connecting to the TV via HDMI and to the network via WiFi. Once connected up, owners can make high-definition video calls to other Biscotti owners and Google Video Chat users.  And you will not believe how small the camera unit is. Todd chats to Matthew Shoemake to learn more.

The TV Phone uses an HDMI pass-through technology, meaning that there’s no need to change channels when receiving a call as the Biscotti notifies users via a pop-up message on screen. By using Google Video Chat, the Biscotti TV Phone can connect to any device that has a Chat client, whether it’s AndroidiPhone or a PC. Connectivity with other video clients will be forthcoming, but no details just yet.

The Biscotti TV Phone is available for $199 and no monthly fees. Watch the video to get free shipping (disclaimer – not sure how long this promotion will run after CES finishes.)

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Skype at CES 2011


Todd Cochrane interviewed Rick Osterlash, VP of Consumer Products for Skype at CES 2011. Skype announce several new products and partnerships either at CES or just prior to it.

The first product Mr Osterlash talked about was a new version of Skype for the iPhone, which allows two-way video calling. The calls can be either phone to phone or phone to desktop. This update was issued just before New Years and over the New Year’s holiday there were more than 1 million video calls made from the iPhone. Apple was very helpful in getting the application on the iPhone. Second Skype announced a partnership with Verizon which will enable Skype on LTE Advance devices including Android. Furthermore they announced a partnership with various TV manufactures. Skype will come installed on certain TVs, allowing consumers to make video Skype calls directly from these TVs.  At the same time they also announced partnerships with some Blue-Ray manufactures which would allow customers to use Skype on older TVs. Finally they announced that the new version of Skype on the desktop will allow group video calls. This is available for both Windows and Mac, although the Mac version is still in beta.

Skype is doing very well in fact there was a study done by TeleGeography which said that 25 percent of all international calls are now done through Skype, and that number is only increasing.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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