Ahead of Its Time Tech

Ojo Personal Video Phone

Year: 2004

What It Is: Specially designed landline phones that house a 7-inch (480 x 234 or 856 x 480) full-color display and an integrated speaker that allows gabbers to chat face-to-face, regardless of distance.

Why It Failed: With new and old models, you can only connect with an Ojo user if you have an Ojo phone, so purchasing a pair is essential. The other major stumbling block when Ojo first came to market was the original cost of a Personal Video Phone bundle: over $1,500. (They now start at a more reasonable $349 per phone.)

Why It Was Important: Although Ojo’s wares (now under the WorldGate umbrella) never really gained mainstream popularity, they set the stage for Skype, a service that enables video calling on laptops by leveraging their integrated webcams. You can even make high-definition (720p) calls now using an external webcam such as the FaceVision TouchCam N1 ($99; www.facevision.com). By the middle of the year, Skype will make its way to select LG and Panasonic HDTVs (when you purchase a compatible USB webcam). On the hardware front, the ASUS AiGuru SV1T ($249; www.skype.com) is a dedicated Skype video phone that is a direct descendent of the Ojo. And the Saygus Vphone V1 is expected to be the first smart phone released by a U.S. carrier that offers two-way video calling. Fring, a mobile application, enables one-way video calling on the iPhone and iPod touch, and two-way video calling on certain Symbian S60 phones.

Current Chance of Technology’s Success: Uncertain. “Video chatting has been talked about for so long, but no one I know uses it,” said ABI Research’s Bonte. “Unless you’re specifically trying to show a person something on-screen, there’s really no need for it.”

Ahead of Its Time Tech Contents

1. :CueCat
Gemstar Rocket eBook
HP Jornada 820
4. Ojo Personal Video Phone
5. Pepper Pad
Sharp Actius RD3D

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