LG to bring Skype calls to TV
Las Vegas - Web communications company Skype said on Tuesday that new internet-enabled, high-definition televisions from Panasonic of Japan and South Korea's LG will feature Skype voice and video calling.
The Skype-enabled HDTVs will be available in the middle of the year and when combined with new HD webcams will "allow people to communicate from the comfort of their living rooms", Skype said.
Skype, in an announcement timed to coincide with the opening here this week of the annual Consumer Electronics Show, said LG and Panasonic will offer specially-designed HD webcams with "special microphones and optics that can pick up sound and video from a couch-distance".
Skype, which has its headquarters in Luxembourg, bypasses the standard telephone network and provides voice and video calls over the internet.
It allows Skype users to call other users free of charge and provides the ability to connect with land lines or mobile devices at low rates.
Skype, which was sold by online auction giant eBay in November to a private investment group, said its software will be embedded in Panasonic's 2010 VIERA CAST-enabled HDTVs and LG's 26 new LCD and plasma HDTVs with NetCast Entertainment Access.
"The popularity of Skype video calling has increased substantially in recent years with an average of 34%of Skype-to-Skype calls now including video," Skype chief executive Josh Silverman said.
"Many people who are video calling on Skype... expressed a desire to communicate with their friends and family from somewhere comfortable, and preferably on a big screen," Silverman said. "Logically, this led to the development of Skype embedded on HDTVs."