Dick Tracy had his two-way wrist video communicators, and I don’t know about you, but I believed that we’d all be using them by now. The idea of video phone calls has had a strong appeal for decades, but many efforts have failed to make them a practical reality. But maybe that’s changing at last.
All the pieces are falling into place to make this commonplace, however. We’ve got HDTVs in a majority of homes, and broadband Internet connections. More and more TVs can now connect directly to the Internet. And digital cameras are so ubiquitous that it adds nearly nothing to the bill of materials cost to include one with just about any electronic device. And the MPEG4/H.264 compression makes it practical to send good quality live images over a broadband connection.
We already use Skype to place video calls with family members, and it’s free. As HDTV set makers dig deeper to find features to differentiate their products from the competition, it’s reasonable to expect that Skype could become a standard feature for Internet-connected HDTVs, just like Yahoo! widgets or Vudu or Netflix support.
So video phone conversations could be the next big thing in HDTVs. Stay tuned!