one of david schneiders remote skype boxes Hacking Skype for Better Teleconferencing

Photo: Randi Silberman Klett

David Schneider of IEEE Spectrum has an interesting article up about a system he set up to improve his Skype-mediated telepresence at their editorial meetings. Physically, the system consists of four oblong wooden boxes, distributed along their conference table, mounting ten USB devices between them—two webcams and eight microphones:

I wrote a Windows program in C#, which I dubbed MicPicker, to send short text messages between two computers during a Skype session. Based on what message is received, this software selects which webcam and microphone the Skype client uses…So with this program running at both ends, a remote attendee can choose which webcam and mic will be live during a meeting, changing that selection on the fly to follow the conversation.

Much better remote audio seems to be the system’s biggest advantage. Instead of having just one ear and one eye onto a ten-person conversation, David can remotely pick and choose the best audio and video feed depending on who is speaking. Other remote participants can share in David’s real-time “production” of the meeting. [Thanks, Dad!]

Teleconferencing on the Cheap – IEEE Spectrum

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


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