Simple Science: How does video chat work?

Video chatting services are becoming extremely popular, with applications like Skype being used by almost five million people every day.

These services work on a group of technologies collectively called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), in addition to services that carry text, images and videos. Essentially, the Internet is used to make and receive phone calls.

Internet communications work through a series of protocols and govern how computers communicate with one another, such as where the information is going and what it contains, according to the site "Explain That Stuff."

Using this, video chat services connect to the Internet and send a request to the receiving device that a call is trying to be made. This is comparable to using a cell phone to make a call and waiting for the other person to pick up. 

Once the call is picked up, the site explains that all audio and video sent by either device are encoded into numbers, so the information sent over the Internet is quantifiable.

This information is then translated back into audio and video by the receiving device. Repeating this process continuously is how video chatting happens for extended periods of time.

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