Sky launches TV webcam for video calling and watch parties

Sky launches TV webcam for video calling and watch parties

Comcast-owned British broadcaster Sky has launched a new camera that’s designed to add more social, fitness, and gaming features to its smart TVs. The Sky Live camera attaches magnetically to the top of Sky Glass smart TVs and connects via USB-C and HDMI. It lets you watch TV simultaneously with other households, supports making video calls over Zoom, can track home workouts, and also comes with Kinect-style motion-controlled games.

Sky Live costs £290 (about $370) upfront, but it’s also available to buy for £6 per month on a 48-month contract, or £12 per month on a 24-month contract. But The Guardians notes that Sky is also offering introductory deals that bring the cost of the camera down to £3 a month when purchased alongside a TV. The camera requires a Sky Glass TV to function, which itself starts at £14 a month over a 48-month contract, but scales up as you add more content to your Sky package.

“Sky Live makes your TV much more than just a TV, by introducing new entertainment experiences to the heart of your home,” Sky’s global chief product officer Fraser Stirling said in a statement. “Get active with motion control games, work out with body tracking technology, video call on the big screen and watch TV with loved ones – even from afar. And this is just the start. With our powerful Entertainment OS ecosystem, it will keep getting better with every update.”

The camera itself is 12-megapixels in resolution with a 106-degree field of view, and has four microphones built in. It supports auto-framing to keep you in the center of the shot during video calls, and there’s also background noise suppression that attempts to keep you audible even when things get noisy. There’s no physical privacy shutter, instead you get a button to manually turn off the camera and microphone.

There’s no privacy shutter, but you get a button to turn the camera and microphone off.
Image: Sky

The watch together feature appears to be Sky’s take on Apple’s SharePlay, allowing you to watch TV remotely with up to 11 other households, The Guardians notes. Friends’ video streams appear to the right of the main video feed. The feature works with all live channels and Sky’s on-demand content, but not third-party streaming services like the BBC’s iPlayer or Netflix, and streams are limited to HD rather than 4K. According to WhatHifi, Sky boasts that playback should be synchronized across all call participants (important if you’re watching live sports together), and anyone can pause or rewind the content you’re watching. It’s supposed to emulate watching TV together in the same room, after all.

The fitness and gaming features are where the Kinect comparisons become more apparent. There’s a built in Mvmnt fitness app with over 130 interactive workouts, and the Sky Live camera can keep an eye on your form and track your reps. There are also motion-controlled games including Fruit Ninjas (obviously), and a version of Monopoly which is controlled with the TV’s standard remote and supports online multiplayer. But, as WhatHifi notes, Sky Live isn’t intended as a hands-free controller for the TV itself. You’ll still be using a traditional remote to choose content to watch.

Disclosure: Sky’s parent company Comcast is an investor in Vox Media, The Verges‘s parent company.

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