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Intel Set-Top Box Camera Controversy: Much to do About Nothing

February 18, 2013 | Telepresence Options

samsung-TV-camera.jpg

Patrick Moorhead, Forbes

Last Tuesday, Erik Huggers, Intel's corporate vice president of Intel Media,  announced at D:Dive Into Media that Intel is building a set top box and pay TV service that includes live TV.  Huggers talked about the service which will most likely include friendlier bundling and also about the living-room device itself, which will operate more like a 21st century media device, not the slow and unfriendly devices most consumers use today.

Intel has assembled a group of entertainment veterans from companies from around the media industry blended with Intel employees to attempt to pull off this new form of TV entertainment nirvana.  The ensuing press coverage ranged from optimistic to a bit skeptical about their chances, but that's to be expected as many have tried and failed in this space, including Apple and Google.  One element some in the press criticized was the camera, which some fantasized as some big brother nightmare come to life.   I want to provide the reality of what is going on, which after a bit of research, is much to do about nothing.

The Camera Shutter

While I would rather start with what the camera does and why it's a benefit, I think it's important to air out what Intel's camera has that most cameras don't have... a shutter.  That's right, the Intel STB camera has a shutter that viewers can close if they don't want to use it.  Think about how many devices with a camera that do not provide the option of a cover.

In 2012, there were approximately 675M smartphones shipped with a camera.  At CES 2012, Samsung showed off their latest TVs that came with a camera.... without a shutter.  They subsequently added a shutter for their 2013 line.  Microsoftannounced last week they had shipped 24M Kinect devices since inception which come with cameras... without a shutter.  Nearly 200M notebooks with a camera... and no shutter.  Adding smartphones and notebooks just sold in 2012, that's over three-quarter of a billion devices sold just in 2012 that could be used in the home that include a camera without a

physical shutter.  You get the idea.  Intel's camera is opt-in and also provides a physical shutter that the viewer can close if they choose.

Let's now talk about why a viewer would want to use the camera.

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