From the horse’s mouth
I have been following the idea of using a common large screen TV with Skype and similar videoconferencing software on a common PC as a cost-effective method to achieve family and small-business group videoconferencing. This was since Channel 7 Australia had run a news item about it being part of linking older people who were confined to a nursing home with their younger family and also myself seeing it in action with some friends establishing a video-conference with relatives in Italy using this tool on their laptop.
When Skype announced that LG and Panasonic were integrating this technology in to their newer large-screen TV models at CES 2010, I was excited about this idea becoming closer for most people. Now, Samsung had announced this week that they were integrating Skype in the LED-backlit 7000 and 8000 series TVs. This has meant that another TV manufacturer has stepped up to the plate as far as Skype integration is concerned.
These implementations typically require a compatible Webcam (which has an integrated microphone) to be connected to the TV’s USB port and the TV to be connected to the home network via its Ethernet port. The user can then associate their Skype account with these TV sets to start videoconferencing.
The only limitation I see about the action so far is that manufacturers who supply TV peripheral devices like PVRs and games consoles aren’t providing the full Skype-based video-conferencing setup as an add-on to their devices. If this happened, especially in the form of a software download for the likes of the TiVo or the PS3, this could please people who own these devices to set themselves up for large-screen group videoconferencing.
It is also worth knowing that all of these implementations can yield a high-resolution picture but only if the computer on the other end is running Skype 4.2 or newer or if the device on the other end supports Skype HD functionality. Also the Internet service must support sufficiently-high bandwidth for the high-quality pictures.
At least this is a step closer to ubiquitous cost-effective group videoconferencing for home and small business. As well, it is one step taken to bring the videoconferencing practice out of the science-fiction novel and 1970s “future tech” book in to common reality.