彭蒙惠英语：20110222 MP3在线课程 Video Chat Opens Opportunities
The geographic factor is perhaps the biggest attraction for video chat services.
Christian Phoenix was taking guitar lessons when he lived in California. Then five years ago he moved to South Dakota.
"Guitar lessons were nowhere to be found," said Phoenix, 33, a computer consultant. "There wasn't even a music store nearby."
David Fisher was a guitar teacher who lived in a city with no such shortage.
"There are tons of guitar teachers in Nashville [Tennessee], as you can imagine," Fisher said. He started giving online lessons to "stay afloat and stay competitive."
Now about half of Fisher's students come to him by video chat. Phoenix found him on Craigslist this year and began taking lessons for $35 an hour.
"The main thing with the webcam lessons is that initially you have to get used to it," Phoenix said. "Sometimes you have to zoom so the teacher can see your fingers."
An area that's ripe for video chat expansion is medicine, said market analyst Ken Hyers of Technology Business Research.
"We're seeing a broad push across markets," he said. "The infrastructure is much more able to support it now."
A wide variety of possible uses
Mental health professionals, who rely on talk and visual cues, have adopted the technology.
In February, during a blizzard on the East Coast, two of psychiatrist Patrick Barta's patients were snowed in and couldn't make it to his Maryland office. In both cases, he suggested video chat sessions.
"I could see their mannerisms and felt safe enough to prescribe them the meds they needed."
Video chat sessions now account for 20 percent of his practice. Most of these clients are under 35. "The older crowd tends to be more leery of it," Barta said.