Skype, as many of you know, is a software application that was originally created to allow peer-to-peer voice communications between Skype subscribers via the Internet. At this point, there are millions of Skype users worldwide with—so say Skype spokesmen—thousands upon thousands of new users signing up for Skype services each week. An interesting wrinkle, however, is that Skype has evolved over time to support not only voice communications but also other types of data transfers as well as video conferencing. This is where the concept of Skype on HDTV comes in.
As more and more HDTVs become Internet-enabled devices, it was only a matter of time before product developers created Skype applications for TVs, complete with web-cam support, that essentially turn widescreen televisions into delightful—and comparatively low cost—HD video conferencing systems. Two manufacturers in particular, LG and Panasonic, have seized this conceptual “ball” and run with it in a major way, to the amazement and delight of CES show attendees.
The potential for Skype on HDTV applications are impressive. Through Skype, it becomes possible, for example, to stay in touch with family members, friends, or business associates based in faraway locations, and to do so at minimal cost. It also becomes possible to check in on aging parents or on those recovering from illness or surgery to make sure they are doing well (or to summon help if they are not). Where such teleconferencing services were once the exclusive domain of a wealthy few, Skype on HDTV promises to make real-time sight-and-sound communications accessible to middle class families in the here and now.