Video Chat Comes to the Wallace Family

(Posted 4/18/06) - The Wallaces (Glen Ellyn and Casey) now have Video Chat capability! Over Easter Weekend we installed a Web-Cam and a freeware Video Chat service (CQPhone) on Jan Wallace's Computer.

We are now able to call anytime between the Wallaces in Glen Ellyn, and Jan Wallace in Casey and connect into a full-duplex voice and 30 fps video chat with each other. And it doesn't cost a dime! We both have broadband service that supports TCP/UDP signaling point to point.

CQPhone is in the business of selling video conferencing services around the world. They also provide a free Video Chat software package for personal use that is easy to install and fun to use. Click here to download from their website.

I bought two Creative WebCam's for $25/each which even included a mic/earbud set, so you can avoid the feedback problems inherent in 'open' duplex voice communication. The included software supports other functions for the webcam, like taking snapshots, morphing images, and email interface.

After enabling our Home Router's port forwarding for the three ports used by the CQPhone application, it was a simple matter to dial-up the supplied 'telephone' number to alert the other party of an incoming call.

The CQPhone folks maintain an internet server which maps telephone number to destination IP (when you start the application on your PC it registers with the server).

Voice quality is circuit-connection equivalent, and latency is minimal. The solution is well implemented and works quite well. We look forward to many weekly video-chats. In fact, we plan to expand to include our son Matt and daughter Kathy (as soon as the latter gets broadband installed).