Don’t Like Eating Alone? Try a Virtual Family Dinner
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A company called Accenture has developed a system for a “virtual family dinner”. The concept is simple enough. With people scattered across the United States, and around the globe, it’s increasingly rare that a family sits down to dinner together around a table. So, goes Accenture’s corpthink, let’s have their loved ones sit down with them – wherever they may be – and share the experience via the Internet and webcams.

Of course, Accenture seems to be acting as if they have rediscovered the webcam, and is charging $500 to $1000 for their virtual family dinner system. Still, their hearts are apparently in the right place. “We are trying to really bring back the kind of family interactions we used to take for granted,” explained Dadong Wan, a researcher with Accenture.


I don’t know about you, but I never took for granted my family observing me eating via a surveillance camera. But maybe that’s just me.

The virtual family meal system is aimed primarily at the elderly, whom are often shut in, or may have special dietary needs which could be monitored by family members on the grid of the system.

The system includes an alert which is triggered when someone sits down to eat. That alerts the others on the system, so that they can rush to their camera and screen, and “share” the meal. This, says Accenture, is what makes their virtual family meal system different from just a regular webcam system.

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In other words, it’s not triggered voluntarily by the diner – it’s triggered automatically.

Some may see this as nifty cool, but others could see it as an invasion of privacy. “This would really have to be a tool older people felt complete control over and when they turn it off, it is off,” explained Lucia West-Jones of the Northeastern Illinois Area Agency on Aging. Said 62 year-old Arther Baker, a disabled veteran living in Chicago, when told of the proposed system, “If it’s like Big Brother or something, that’s always going to be a concern.”

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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3 thoughts on “Don’t Like Eating Alone? Try a Virtual Family Dinner
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  1. I think this is the answer to stopping every certified Diet Cheater in America. “What’s that your eating Betty? Oh, a hot fudge sundae? Shame on you, you know better than that.” Or better yet, somebody would actually have to eat that fruit cake your sister-in-law sent you last Christmas. They could be the Fruitcake Police on camera!

  2. I’m sorry but this sounds like a new way to rip off the elderly who don’t know any better than to think they need this! All this can be accomplished with existing software that is free.

  3. Why limit this to the dinner table? This system needs to be installed at every drive-in window in the world.
    Attendance of the observers should be made mandatory.
    Heck, why not just have everyone on surveillance all the time?
    –What’s that, we already are? Maybe we can make our government more efficient and helpful.
    The NSA could change from being the National Security Agency to the Nutrition Security Agency. If we eat the wrong foods, a Nutritional Security Agent would visit and set us straight!
    (W, don’t read this…)

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