Apple is once again featuring prominently in news headlines following the announcement of its new iPad 2. This latest must-have device is thinner, lighter, and faster, with increased battery life and a new “smart cover” that increases functionality.

But perhaps one of the most interesting attributes of the new iPad is the addition of Apple’s Facetime software to its built-in applications. This makes mobile video chatting more accessible in a larger format than previously available, with the iPad screen providing a near life-size representation of the human face.

While Facetime is a fairly rudimentary video communications platform, its increasing presence will mean that more and more people will be adapting to the idea of adding video to their voice communications. This is interesting not just from a technology standpoint, but also in terms of human behavior. Voice is a great indicator of mood and comprehension, but when you add the possibility for eye contact and observation of facial expressions the value of an exchange between participants is elevated significantly. Or, as Apple itself elaborates, “The big, beautiful iPad display is a great place for a face, because you can really see it. Not a smile or laugh goes unnoticed.”

Most presenters in business and education are well aware of the value of eye contact. But this important function of communication goes further than merely ensuring your audience is engaged. Eye contact can also make up for all manner of inhibitors to an effective meeting or collaboration. Specifically because, according to presentation skills consultant Debbie Bailey, “Good eye contact cuts physical distance in half, helps you connect with your audience on a personal level, and invites audience members to participate in your presentation.”

If eye contact can cut distance in half when delivering a presentation in person, think what it can do remotely through video chats or videoconferencing. Going well beyond what an iPad offers consumers, today’s audiovisual communications technology allows for high-definition video in a startling number of entry-level and advanced solutions. At the same time, the life-size videoconferencing options formerly only available as part of a high-end offering are becoming more widely available in scalable systems that fit more business’ budgets.

The videoconferencing evolution goes beyond just another gadget obsession. It really resonates as an improved method of communicating and conveying meaning in a conversation. This is founded in our most fundamental traits of interacting with other people. As it turns out, humans are equally responsive to eye contact both in person and via video connection. There is some proof that this is an instinctual reaction. A Canadian study where adults interacted with three- to six-month olds over both closed-circuit television and in person revealed that children would cease to smile when eye contact was broken. Whether seen on screen or live and in person, eye contact was powerful enough to make an infant smile.

There is certainly potential for a lot of smiles and fun where video communications are involved, especially because from a user standpoint, Apple’s Facetime is a fast and easy means to jump into video communications. But for more serious business enterprises that need reliability to make sure a meeting goes right the first time, every time, there are also a variety of convenient and nearly effortless options for joining the videoconferencing milieu. For example, Cisco’s Tandberg Callway is a subscription-based service that makes it easy to add video communications or telepresence options to your business. Perfect for small deployments, Cisco Callway can be installed in minutes and allows for unlimited video calling.

So if you feel your meetings, presentations, or training sessions could use a bit more face time, maybe it’s time you looked for a videoconferencing solution that fits your business model.