The Yahoo article (link) on Virtual Dinners makes interesting reading. Fiction? Not really. Only for nerds? Depends on how the key players react. Health-care and insurance companies definitely have an interest in this, afterall there are interesting opportunities to reduce the cost of quality health care, making it more affordable to buy solutions such as these.
In Norway, I wonder if Tandberg (the video-conferencing people) and Telenor Broadcast could work with the Healthcare Ministry and related ministries to create such a practical solution? The Hjelpemiddelsentralen (government agency that caters to people with temporary og permanent handcaps) and maybe SmartHus Forum could be a crucible for such collaboration. Perhaps the home-security people could also be a player here (after all a number of homes are plugged with sensors and alarms). Definitely worth exploring how this can happen, I suspect thechallenge is in shaping a “business” case for the project, and then delivery & scope management.
But are these only for the developed world?
Developing nations have more on their plate than to think of such “luxury” services. But, I suspect in places like China or India where care for the elderly is a family (and not government) matter, this will have potential. Migrant workers in urban cities could drive growth in the rural areas. Applying techniques from telemedicine can increase the relevance for developing countries? Helping specialists in the urban/large cities to also serve the rural areas. Medical assistance is just one type of application, education, other professional services can also be delivered like this.