Using tech to connect my family thousands of miles away

Ustream screenshot

I geeked out at Christmas, it’s really no surprise. My my mum was here visiting us in Nashville, but my dad was back home in Toronto (near there) and my brother was in Switzerland (where he lives).

I’ve been using ooVoo for around a year now, I was one of the early beta testers of the popular multi-person video chat service (thanks Jaffe and Monty). With ooVoo you can get up to six people chatting at once, all within one window (picture the beginning of The Brady Bunch).

Another free web video service that I think is awesome is Ustream. With Ustream you can easily stream live from your iSight/web cam. Ustream enables a built in chat room, so viewers can interact with the host and other viewers.

I wanted to find a way that we could all enjoy Christmas together, even though we were thousands of miles apart. That’s when I realized it could be done.

I shot an email to my dad and brother, Mike, with instructions on how they could take part in the festivities. The best part was that they would be able to watch my 2 and 3 year old kids as they discovered what Santa had left them, and would gradually rip through through the gift wrapping – live.

Mike and I on ooVoo

I set up one laptop on a chair facing the Christmas tree, this was my Ustream live machine. The other machine sat with ooVoo running, so we could see and chat with my brother and dad at the same time. It all worked out really well.