VSee Celebrates OneClick with iFly

Telemedicine is very hot right now, and vsee OneClick virtual waiting room is the perfect product :)  The VSee team took half a day off to chill with some indoor skydiving. Have a look at our team having fun!

Becky Best pic milton - the flying frog Sam Willow


NSA Hacked UN Videoconferencing System According to New Snowden Documents

united nationsWhether it’s your typical Skype video chat or a secured United Nations videoconference, video communications are getting hacked.  German news magazine Der Spiegel reports that the latest documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden shows that the NSA broke the code for the United Nations internal videoconferencing system at its New York headquarters during the summer of 2012. Within 3 weeks of the breakthrough, the number of intercepted video calls rose from 12 to 458.  Under international treaties, spying on the United Nations is illegal.  However, the NSA isn’t the only one who’s been doing it. According to the documents the Chinese had previously also made attempts to hack the system.

A GigaOm post also notes that the NSA tapped the EU embassy in the U.S. and regularly monitors over 80 consulates around the world, which is discussed more at length in an English version article from Der Spiegel.

Microsoft Skype Cooperated with NSA Surveillance Program From the Beginning

A few months earlier, The Guardian published excerpts from more Edward Snowden documents which revealed that Microsoft Skype participated in the NSA PRISM surveillance program. In the past, there have been allegations of Skype keeping decryption keys (which allows them to give others access to your information) and other security weakness concerns. These papers clearly show that Skype’s design did and still does allow for secret surveillance.  Indeed, Skype began its integration into the PRISM government surveillance program months before its acquisition by Microsoft. Moreover, the NSA and FBI have been able to mine Skype user data since February 6, 2011, the day right after Skype’s acquisition. Commentary from the NSA documents note:

“Feedback indicated that a collected Skype call was very clear and the metadata looked complete…. Collaborative teamwork [between NSA teams and the FBI] was the key to the successful addition of another provider to the Prism system.”

Source: The Guardian – Microsoft Hands NSA Access to Encrypted Messages

In 2012, NSA observed a 248% increase in Skype data collection with another note from the documents commenting, “exponential growth in Skype reporting; looks like the word is getting out about our capability against Skype.” Since the acquisition NSA has gained even more ability to gather Skype data. According to a Guardian article:

One document boasts that Prism monitoring of Skype video production has roughly tripled since a new capability was added on 14 July 2012. “The audio portions of these sessions have been processed correctly all along, but without the accompanying video. Now, analysts will have the complete ‘picture’,” it says.

Despite the leaked documents, Microsoft denies knowledge of the Prism program, asserting Skype’s privacy policy: “Skype is committed to respecting your privacy and the confidentiality of your personal data, traffic data and communications content.”

Would you trust Skype for private communications?

VSee in Gabon – Albert Schweitzer Hospital 100 Years Legacy

VSee telemedicine kit in Gabon jungleEric has had a crazy and amazing week bringing the VSee telemedicine suitcase into the jungles of Gabon. He has been setting up VSee satellite calls to bring Harvard doctors and Albert Schweitzer Hospital doctors face to face virtually for telehealth consultations.  And he has been training medical staff to use the VSee telemedicine kit. He also had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a Lambaréné, Gabon (where the hospital is located) as it celebrates the hospital’s 100 year anniversary to honor the legacy of Nobel Laureate, Albert Schweitzer and and inaugurates the new Centre Hospitalier Universitaire International Albert Schweitzer à Lambaréné. The Albert Schweitzer Centennial even brought the President of Gabon out to Lambaréné just for the occasion!

VSee telemedicine village checkVSee remote ultrasound village visitVSee telemedicine kit provides remote ultrasound on a village visit.

VSee to connect Harvard to HASVSee satellite call for a video telemedicine consultation between Dr. Jean-Daniel at the Albert Schweitzer hospital in Gabon and Dr. Sarosh Rana at Harvard’s Beth Israel in Boston.

Schweitzer hospital waits for Gabon presidentpresident of Gabon visits hospitalLambaréné celebrates Albert Schweitzer CentennialAlbert Schweitzer Centennial drummingAlbert Schweitzer Centennial dancer

President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba waving

There goes the President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, waving!

Schweitzer med students watch gala

Albert Schweitzer Hospital med students watching the Centennial Symposium celebrations streaming live from the capital city of Libreville via satellite.

Check out what the rest of the VSee team has been doing in Africa.

See our photo journals from VSee’s last visit to Gabon and the Albert Schweitzer Hospital.

Google Loon – Moonshot To Bring Internet Access For All

Google Internet access balloon

Google recently unveiled its secret, ambitious Project Loon — a visionary project, involving the launch of an armada of “Internet balloons” to bring cheap Internet access to people all over the world.

Even as online resources and communications become an increasingly critical way to get healthcare, education, jobs and business opportunities, two-thirds of the world is still without Internet access. Most often these are people with low incomes or in rural areas. NDTV reports that only “11 percent of men and women in India have Internet access compared to 79 percent in the United States.” The stats are even more abysmal for much of Africa, where only 15.6 percent of the entire continent has Internet access. If this moonshot works, this could really begin to bridge the digital divide between those in the networked world and the majority in the offline world.

As former FCC official Karen Kornbluh said in a PBS interview “the Internet has become the innovation platform. It’s where we all come together to collaborate and innovate. And we all know we need more growth.  If we don’t have equal access, then we can’t have equal access to jobs and growth.”

Improving Healthcare with Telemedicine

One area that could be totally transformed by Google’s crazy scheme for universal Internet access is healthcare. Recently, there has been an explosive growth in telehealth and telemedicine as countries around the world look for creative ways to address healthcare burdens. However, without easy Internet access telemedicine may just end up a fringe technology for the elite. The good news is technology is getting better and making telemedicine more practical for everyone:

  • University of California San Diego is using telemedicine to cut down on their ER wait times which average a whopping 296 minutes.
  • The Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Gabon is using VSee telemedicine to provide remote ultrasound and to reduce maternal deaths.
  • Organizations like the Swinfen Charitable Trust and the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. use telemedicine to provide excellent specialist care for children all over the world no matter where they are from pulling a tooth in Africa, heart surgery in Morocco or an orphanage in China, and services continue to expand.
  • LifePaths Global Alliance has been using telemedicine in Haiti to provide healthcare to over ten thousand Haitian living in the rural countryside following the 2010 earthquake.
  • In remote places like Nepal and Tibet telemedicine is a much needed medical resource for its inhabitants and is implemented at a national level. The problem, the Republica reports, is that “Lack of infrastructure is still the most important setback, while constant power cuts and unreliable internet connection are the other hindrances.” Google Loon could be key to making these services more reliable.

How Google Loon Internet Access Works

The idea is to have crowds of these solar-powered “Internet balloons” sailing the Earth’s stratosphere (above weather and air traffic). These networks of balloons can be navigated to areas of need where they pass signals from balloon to balloon and from balloon to ground where homes and network towers are located. Places equipped with the special Google Loon antenna can get 3G-like Internet speeds. Project Loon is currently being piloted with New Zealanders.

Until Google Loon proves to be feasible, broadband satellite may be the only alternative for those living off the grid and in places with poor infrastructure.

Related articles

photo courtesy: Trey Ratcliff via Google+



Nintendo Uses VSee To Remotely Animate Super Mario

VSee & Nintendo Super Mario AnimationVSee is making it possible for fans of the uber successful Nintendo Super Mario Bros. video game to have a live conversation with Mario himself down at the New York Rockefeller Center!

This longtime Nintendo project combines VSee with remote control of the animated Mario character. VSee gives the animator behind “Mario” the ability to hear, see, and talk with the audience. Meanwhile, Nintendo has created the animation and joystick control that allows the animator to remotely control Mario’s movements and expressions for a highly interactive and engaging experience.

Here’s a video of Mario in action, chatting away with “Princess Kiki” and “Princess Maritza” and showing off his famous flips and punches at the Nintendo World Store in New York.

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