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Although not as widely used in everyday communications as audio-only and text communication, useful applications include sign language transmission for deaf and speech-impaired people, distance education, telemedicine, and overcoming mobility issues.
It is also used in commercial and corporate settings to facilitate meetings and conferences, typically between parties that already have established relationships.
At the dawn of its commercial deployment from the 1950s through the 1990s, videotelephony also included "image phones" which would exchange still images between units every few seconds over conventional POTS-type telephone lines, essentially the same as slow scan TV systems.
The development of advanced video codecs, more powerful CPUs, and high-bandwidth Internet telecommunication services in the late 1990s allowed videophones to provide high quality low-cost colour service between users almost anyplace in the world that the Internet is available.
News media organizations have begun to use desktop technologies like Skype to provide higher-quality audio than the phone network, and video links at much lower cost than sending professional equipment or using a professional studio.
More popular videotelephony technologies use the Internet rather than the traditional landline phone network, even accounting for modern digital packetized phone network protocols, and even though videotelephony software commonly runs on smartphones.
Only in the late 20th century with the advent of powerful video codecs combined with high-speed Internet broadband and ISDN service did videotelephony become a practical technology for regular use.
In 1992 CU-See Me was developed at Cornell by Tim Dorcey et al.
This was first embodied in the device which came to be known as the video telephone, or videophone, and it evolved from intensive research and experimentation in several telecommunication fields, notably electrical telegraphy, telephony, radio, and television.
Simple analog videophone communication could be established as early as the invention of the television.
The development of the crucial video technology first started in the latter half of the 1920s in the United Kingdom and the United States, spurred notably by John Logie Baird and AT&T's Bell Labs.
This occurred in part, at least with AT&T, to serve as an adjunct supplementing the use of the telephone.