11 Innovative Ways Technology Can Bring Families Together

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The holiday season is a time for families to gather together, be it while roasting chestnuts on an open fire or around a telephone receiver. So whether yours is nearby or widespread this winter, use these 11 innovative ways to feel closer to your family than ever.

1. It Makes Planning a Snap

Skip the massive email threads and phone tree this year by using a party-planning app like Pro Party Planner to organize your holiday family gathering. This thing does everything for you, from importing guest lists to delegating tasks (everyone will know who is responsible for bringing the cranberry sauce this year!) to giving reminders, and it syncs across multiple users.

2. It Can Optimize Your Face Time

If your whole family can’t make it home for the holidays, you can still spend virtual quality time together by video chatting. Download Skype, invite your family to a Google Hangout, or use a mobile app like Tango to bridge the distance.

3. It Can Connect You

If video chatting isn’t your thing, you can still have a family-wide conversation from all corners of the globe by using a group-messaging app such as Groupme. If not everyone in your family is on the cutting edge of technology, Groupme works on every device, including old non-smart phones.

4. It Helps You Play Together

End the inevitable conversation lull—you know, the one that usually falls between dessert and bedtime—by reaching for your mobile device. A game of Heads Up!, a free app for your phone or tablet, is sure to have your family hooting and hollering in no time. A game of Taboo-meets-Charades, Heads Up! has you guess the word displayed on your phone by deciphering clues given by your family and friends. The coolest part: The app records the group's antics so you share another laugh watching it back.

5. And Entertains You

Instead of heading to the theater after your holiday dinner, pop some popcorn and settle in for a movie night at home. Video streaming services give you instant access to almost any title you can think of, and devices such as Roku and gaming consoles allow you to watch your movie on your television’s big screen.

6. It Can Erase Geographical Boundaries

Distant cousins can join your movie night from their home in Connecticut by using a screen-sharing program such as join.me or Screenhero. Simply download the program and log in to share your computer screen with that of your faraway relative. Join.me and Screenhero also include voice chatting options, so you can gab freely while you watch (during the boring parts, of course). Soon Intel® will also allow you to consume media together—by using an Ultrabook™ 2 in 1 device with Intel® RealSense™ technology, you and your family can watch a shared video with your own images overlaid.

7. It Creates a Shared Experience

Recreate the old-timey camaraderie of listening to a radio broadcast by tuning into a podcast with your family. A perpetual favorite of ours is NPR’s This American Life, which also has a great app.

8. It Keeps Old Memories Fresh

Before your big family gathering, invest in a VHS to DVD converter, such as the Toshiba DVR620 DVD/VHS Recorder ($229.99) or the Honestech VHS to DVD Delux kit ($79.99), or head to your local drugstore to have your old home movies digitized. There won’t be a dry eye in the house once the film starts rolling.

9. And Helps You Capture New Memories

Film your holiday get-together (and by film I mean record on your mobile phone) and instantly edit it using an app such as Magisto. The whole family can then gather around your tablet or computer that very same day to watch your creation.

10. And Instantly Share Them

While Facebook and Instagram are great when connecting to friends (and acquaintances, and that girl from your freshman year comp lit class), some experiences you want to keep within the family. For that, use Bonfyre. It’s a private social network that allows you to share events, photos, and messages—but only with the people you invite to join you.

11. It Can Create Beautiful Keepsakes

Sharing photos and videos digitally is wonderful, but sometimes you just want a memento you can hold—and you know Grandma wants a good old-fashioned photo album. Technology can help you out with that, too. Upload your photos to a site such as Shutterfly or Picaboo to create beautiful, custom photo books and albums. We love the simple, modern designs of Kolo’s cloth albums.

With technology like immersive chat, Intel is working on innovations that make sharing what you love with the people you love easier with Intel® RealSense™ technology. . Learn more here: intel.com.