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Skype introduces “slob view cam” via LG and Panasonic TV’s.

January 5, 2010

in Skype Journal, VoIP

Just tweeted that the Skype integration with LG and Panasonic TV’s raises some interesting usability questions and options. LG, Panasonic to Add Skype to TVs – WSJ.com. On further reflection this may be the rise of ‘slob view cam’.

Skype Technologies SA has partnered with LG Electronics Inc. and Panasonic Corp., saying the companies will begin producing televisions with its technology embedded in them, allowing users to make video calls over the Internet without a personal computer.

Skype to Be Integrated Into TVs From Panasonic and LG

People who buy these TVs, along with an extra Web camera and microphone accessory designed for the living room, can conduct free, live video chats and phone calls from the couch.

Yeah… well so what? First almost no one will buy a new TV to bring Skype into the living room. Have you even tried a browser on some of the newer Internet enabled TV’s? So just a few questions.

Always-on?
Is Skype and thus the TV always-on? What’s the screen saver? What are the power implications? If it isn’t always on… how or why other than the big video size is this better? (BTW… I can do this today with the PC and web cam hooked up to my TV although I have to run a PC.)

Watching and Talking?
What are the implications for in-screen viewing or simultaneous calls? How is voice handled? Now if we can watch together or I can watch your TV with you… then just like screen sharing we have something more interesting. That isn’t going to be available at this time… otherwise it would be in the Skype Announcement via SkypeJournal. What happens when in a conference call? Is the screen blank? What is the video deal then? Can I watch TV and laugh on mute while ostensible being signed into the call?

Slingbox anyone? Video Recording?

Unless you can get your TV feed easily into Skype so it can become an instant Slingbox (or I can find a hack to the linux code and do some patch-stick update like on the AppleTV) this initiative doesn’t take Skype much further. What happens when a call comes in? Is TV paused? Where is the DVR? Will the skype integration support a USB disk as a recorder? These are just a couple of things that would take this implementation further.

Cam Features?

I wrote about all the choice and usability issues that relate to using a RTX DualPhone 3088 the other day.  Frankly they will be similar with this execution. There is also no way you are going to holding a chat via the TV remote. Yes we sit in a couch and watch TV. Yes we also take phone calls there. However, the slob view cam picture could be really scary. Will the cam have a zoom? Will there be controls on the cam to make angles work or will i have to be directly in front of the TV?

Multi-Client Integration?

Skype can ring multiple iterations of my SKype name at the same time. Can I take the video on my TV and the call on my iPhone? Why not? Why can’t you give me an HDMI box that will take my skype name and use an old webcam and let me “project” and even better capture video from the TV?

Conclusions:
Slob cam won’t be a big hit. There may be another market for SkypeClients in a box that you can use with your TV. EG Skype to HDMI. These may even have a separate handset and get you the video. This would be an RTX upgrade appraoch.

I just don’t see Skype on TV as any form of innovative mojo. Skype once was a brand that changed the playing field. It seems they only wanted to try and do it once. If you would give me Skype Video on my iPhone then… I could autodial my PC with integrated TV tuner. (set it to auto screenshare too…).. Many years ago Jan 2005 I blogged about iPodRadio. There may still be some audio codec issues with this type of sharing and quality. The thing is… putting Skype on TV screens is not creating a new market. There are markets still out there to be created. Just like Podcasting and Skypecasting which effectively pioneered Skype for CNN. Those solutions were created here on this blog!

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  • This partnership will work like a slow release drug, and have a huge impact once the market starts saturating. It gives TV set manufacturers a great way to add value to a commodity product that is hard to differentiate and it gives Skype the ability to compete from below with the video conferencing crowd.

    I think this would be a great product, as is, for small businesses that want cheap, reliable, easy to maintain video conferencing.

    As for consumers, anybody who has kids and wants to foster grandparent/grandchildren distance relationships, this product solves a lot of small problems for them: easy set up, easy view, less buttons to touch. I, for one, don’t plan to buy any new TV that doesn’t have Skype and a webcam built in.

  • Hi Sam, I’m in the camp that we will want smarter screens in both big and small (tiny) sizes although I think the idea of TV is sort of disappearing and my content and interests are what becomes central. I agree it is tough times for TV manufacturers and any form of differentiation they can find is important. In the right room and right environment Skype may well be an ok experience, which may also depend on the size of the screen etc. Even in families it still takes a lot to get video working. I know, and I’ve tried and tried. It seems to work when they finally get a laptop where it is all built in. I’d give them a laptop before i’d invest in the big TV…. as you will need the router and all that stuff too. Thus… I think this is more about news.. than huge sales or a big new communications market. A few screens will also be used for TV.

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