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Live video chat is real-time face-to-face conversation over the Internet by means of webcams and special software. Live video chats can also be carried out using mobile devices with dedicated software and front-facing cameras that support this functionality. It allows people from diverse geographical locations to communicate with each other. Full-motion video and audio are transmitted over the Internet to provide real-time communication.
Live video chat is also known as video calling or video conferencing.
Live video chat combines both live video streaming and audio streaming and allows full duplex communication between the sender and the receiver. The functionality is achieved with the help of dedicated software and requires hardware such as microphones, speakers and Web cameras. The visual communication offered by live video chat is a two-way video communication and may sometimes incorporate text messaging as well. Video chats can also be considered a product of video telephony.
Video telephony or video calls were first engineered in the 1950s and perfected through the 1990s. Extensive research was conducted by AT&T’s Bell Labs on this subject. An early prototype was produced that transmitted still images about every two seconds over an analog PSTN telephone.
Today, video chatting or video calling service is provided by multiple software vendors like Skype, Viber, Google Hangouts, FaceTime and many more. It is also included as a feature in many SNS platforms like Facebook. Though video chatting in general terms refers to point-to-point interaction, more than two people at a time can participate in video chats as well.
Video chats involve huge amounts of data transfer as both video audio are sent over the network continuously. Hence good Internet connectivity is a must to have seamless online video chat.
Apart from the various applications that provide video chatting capabilities, many SaaS applications and websites also provide video chat rooms where users can have a face-to-face conversation with other users. Video chatting is also included as a value-added feature in many websites to provide customer service and communication services.
Live video chats are particularly useful for hearing and speech impaired people who can use them for communicating via sign language.