The Midwestern United States is an interesting place to live. My father calls it “the farm belt.” Families tend to grow a bit larger, and people tend to linger closer to home as they grow up. But even the close-knit Midwest family structure can’t completely close the miles that creep between family members as school, career, and retirement priorities take over.
In my case, a family that was so close for so many years suddenly grew very distant when my mom and dad moved to Florida at age 65. My own family also blossomed in that timeframe, growing to four beautiful children, all under age six. While we travelled twice to visit when our family numbered two children, it quickly became cost prohibitive to visit Oma and Opa as the family grew to four (our German heritage shows through by the names we call our grandparents).
I was somewhat skeptical that I could experience “Telepresence” like I’d seen on TV in my home, given my consumer-grade cable broadband service, but nevertheless, I dove into the ūmi box with excitement. I was equally worried that Dad would have troubles getting the ūmi connected to his HDTV without a technician on hand. Both of my fears were unfounded. My cable service proved sufficient to have a great conversation with my extended family, and dad had the ūmi box connected to his TV in less than 30 minutes.
Cisco ūmi has proven to be a great way to share the daily experiences that define “growing up” for my kids. From showing Oma and Opa our newborn fourth daughter, just three days after she arrived in the world, to sharing a toothless smile as my eldest daughter lost her third tooth in as many months, ūmi has brought our family together despite the miles between. It has brought incredible joy to the faces of children and grandparents alike. Oma and Opa are equally happy, as they peer through the looking glass of their television set into our living room on a weekly basis, watching their grandchildren grow and develop.
In my family, ūmi spans three generations – and for those of us born before the millennium, it is a new, different, and exciting way to stay in touch. But for the kids, Oma and Opa on the TV is just like the Internet: It is something they will have every day of their lives, as normal as a telephone to me and my parents.