Introduction to How Video Conferencing Cell Phones Work

Walk, talk and gawk: This phone model includes a front-facing camera so that users can video chat with each other. See more pictures of cell phones.
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Today it seems everyone has a cell phone. In fact, cell phones may eventually send landlines the way of the dinosaur. As we rely more and more on our cell phones, we want to do more than just talk -- we want to send text messages, e-mail, surf the Internet. And if video conferencing is an option -- well, we'll probably take it.

Imagine being on the phone and being able to watch the other person's facial expressions and body language. Sometimes just a smile or a disinterested look can speak volumes. Video conferencing promises that ability, and the feature isn't far from mainstream grasp. It most likely will become commonplace as cell phone companies embrace 3G technology. 3G, which refers to the third generation of cellular technology, means improved cell phone networks and more advanced features, including video conferencing. Prior cell phone generations -- 1G and 2G -- used analog and digital technology, respectively.

People aren't usually satisfied with just sound or just image. It only took a few decades for sound to be added to movies, making "talkies" the norm. Oddly, however, the telephone didn't follow suit. Though it's been around for over a century, video feeds linked up to sound aren't standard for the telephone. You'd think by now, with all our technological ingenuity, we'd be George Jetson, taking videophone calls at work.

So, what's been the hold up? Why didn't video telephony catch on in the past and what will make it standard now?