I just did my first Skype video from my iPhone to my wife’s Windows 7 PC! Lady’s and gentleman, we live in an exciting time. Not only can we do video over 3G outside of Apple’s “Wifi restricted” Facetime walled garden, but we can do video to other Skype clients running on desktops and laptops.
The other day I went out shopping, as I usually do. (Forgive the random insertion of story prose, I’m leading to an eventual point.) I usually have a list composed by my wife. Typically this list sits on the kitchen table as I shop, depending on my mental carbon copy of said list. My wife has her usual way of requiring specific items from the store, for instance a specific flavor of tea and a specific brand of makeup. For most items I can make due with my mental list copy but for “women” products like hair creams, oils, face powder, etc., I need specific item serial and/or model numbers to guarantee my return with the correct product. I know this. The wife knows this. (By the way, don’t act like its just me shopping for wife stuff! A whole lot of you are probably reading this on your phone right now in the 15 item or less aisle holding a box of pads!) My venture out into the grocery wild usually ends up in my return to the store to purchase products similar to what was already purchased but present on the gnarled list which was un-crumpled after rebounding from my head. that’s what typically happens.
Like I was saying, the other day I was out shopping as usual. My list was in the usual place and I was performing grey matter scans for random products as I travelled through the store. This time I had a plan! I would contact my wife and attempt to use my iPhone to protect my skull from flying paper upon my return home. That is I would use technology on my phone to prevent the multiple trips to the store. My plan was such that I would photograph various attempts to purchase incorrect products and send them homeward for verification. I thought hard about my idea. Maybe I could market it. “Shopping over IP” I thought. SOIP? I would make millions so long as my prototype worked without flaws.
As fate would have it, the idea had its flaws. It had holes in places I hadn’t anticipated. the first problem was time. I takes too long to photograph each item out of a list of 20 or so and compose individual emails of each one. I could try SMS, but that results in compression of photos so they could be rendered on her, then smaller Blackberry display. (We recently upgraded her to an iPhone.) Compression was unacceptable in the case of similar but vastly different in women’s eyes, products. Every detail is important and I needed to milk each pixel out of my phone’s superior camera! The other hole was that in order to see the photos my wife needed to be at her computer. Because she works literally two jobs I knew she would be in bed napping and in no mood to visit her laptop in the study to verify something she clearly identified on the list glued to the syrup stains left from the kids’ morning breakfast. Last major hole was that my wife is a cosmetologist. While I would do backflips for anything presented to me technologically, she has a certain temperament which results in little patience when things require a log in, or a mouse click, or any form of virtual-ness. I imagined our virtual conversation.
“Look honey! It’s like you’re virtually in the store next to me! Which color hair dye was that again???”
“What did I put on the damned list???!!!”
…It was’t pretty, even in the virtual sense. Alas, SOIP would probably have to wait until version 5.0 when all the kinks were worked out before it went public. I broke down that day and eventually used a traditional telephone call. We talked me through the physical aisle rather than her holding my hand next to virtual product. It sucked. If only I could Facetime with her. I thought about Apple’s recent Facetime beta that I had installed on my Mac. Maybe I could have used that instead? That would have even more holes because I wasn’t sure if my crappy router was dropping connection from the mac as it is prone to do and also I didn’t have wifi in this particular store. Also it would mean she would have to log into my mac which was in yet another room requiring her master yet another set of technical knowledge. “Where’s the start menu? What’s this weird looking blue face thing in the lower left corner? What kinda’ Facetime?? Which icon???”
Today, thanks to Skype, I have an answer! I was so excited to see the update that I have to admit something. I can’t wait to go shopping! Maybe it’s just me, but the thrill of, “No worries, dear! I’ll pick up those hair products for you!” now gives me a thrill. I can’t wait to cut on my camera in Skype and literally point to the wrong product saying, “See! Its shelved under the wrong tag! That’s why I keep picking it up!!!” (Why is it that women always assume us men are incompetent? It’s clearly the store clerks that label face cream as face powder!) With Skype I can see my SOIP prototype taking off being adopted by the masses! remember where you heard it first and I will expect an interview from Matt Lauer on the Today Show sometime in the near future.
(The above prose is merely a fictitious example of random shopping experimentation. Any similarity with these stories and real life examples from the author is purely coincidental. No trees have been harmed in the making of this story though one husband may have received minor paper cuts. As always, the examples posted here are done so in humor. don’t take anything too seriously! however, the author does retain any and all claims of originality of the SOIP concept!)