Sophisticated videoconferencing isn't just for only large-scale enterprise users anymore. Skype and some high-definition TV suppliers have announced that they will offer videoconferencing for home users in a few months.
And the videoconferencing will be free, provided users are members of Skype's service. Skype, recently separated from eBay, said Tuesday that LG Electronics and Panasonic will begin supplying features for the service on sets they plan to market later this year. In addition to new TVs, users must purchase Web cameras with microphones.
Skype VoIP users with small Webcams have had access to a primitive form of videoconferencing for several months. The company estimates that about one-third of Skype calls already include video. The new service in partnership with LG and Panasonic will enable users to use TVs in their living rooms to accommodate several viewers at the same time. The TV manufacturers will embed the Skype technology in new sets that are scheduled to hit the market in a few months.
Skype's existing videoconferencing service has typically been carried out on laptops and small desktop computer screens. Panasonic is planning to include the Skype technology on one of its 65-inch sets. The Skype service is planned for Panasonics VT and G series TVs in the U.S. and LG is planning to embed the Skype service in a broad range of its high definition sets.
While the Skype service is not as sophisticated as, for instance, Cisco's or Polycom's service, it promises to make the videoconferencing phenomenon available to a wide audience. Cisco recently paid $3.4 billion for videoconferencing provider Tandberg
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