I'm in the early stages of exploring the idea of developing and manufacturing a consumer-grade Skype set-top box for the TV. This would allow you to use Skype from your current TV without upgrading to a Skype-enabled TV, a cable TV contract or purchasing an expensive peripheral like a Blu-ray player.
If this sounds interesting to you, please fill out the web form at SkypeForTV.com.
I like this, as a solution for my mother, who, bless her, is very timid with a full blown computer, but was able to have a video chat with Uncle Norman in Canada the other night.
I am very interested in this idea, especially as part of a slightly wider service aimed directly at the the elderly and those that care for the elderly. I have registered on your website as would be happy to discuss ideas offline.
I am also caring for a 97-year-old uncle (with Alzheimers) at the other end of the US. Skype on the TV would be a blessing.
Other wish list features: Closed-captioning! Plus, his new 22" Vizio TV is bolted down since he's been burglarized so much. Whatever we get, I'd like to bolt down somehow. If he could hit a toggle button - regular TV to Skype, it would work best.
BAD IDEA unless you can build cheaply leveraging someone elses hardware.
I'm in the business so just a couple of recommendations.
First, the current fragmentation in the television industry will stop and there will be two main operating systems in use iOS and Android/Google-TV. So long term you need to provide something that works with these OS's or supported via HTML5 type browsers running on all these devices (Chrome would be a likely candidate for HTML5 access to USB connected cam/headsets/microphone)
I can go into why but it has to do with consumer based purchase criteria, the importance of content, and sustainability of a multiple-operating-system developer model. Suffice to say, what has happened with symbian, webOs, BlackBerry Playbook OS, meego, and the others will happen here but even quicker.
Apple will outstrip any competition that has allowed it's market to fragment and slowed by upward compatibility issues. This means Google must take more control over standardizing use of the Android OS, more like Microsoft with its Windows 7/XP api's to driver. It must not allow its ability to compete to be driven by manufacturer decisions such as those that have created different proprietary solutions for web cam/headsets for Google-TV devices.
What is the easiest way to get face-to-face on a television? Logitech revue proprietary VID or ... Apple television that integrates with any other Apple device so it could be iPhone to Apple TV or iPhone to iPad or...
Fragmentation will stop one way or the other. All the independent boxes that require unique development will disappear (roku, boxee, etc). The only OS for Television will be Google-TV with imbedded Sage TV capability. It will allow any Android device to connect to any other Android device (well, it must, or it'll be gone soon enough).
SO.... if you build your own box built it as cheaply as possible and consider it throwaway.
Rationalization in the smart phone market will continue into the TV market because the dynamics are identical. More so, the content is already available on the two platforms that will succeed Android and iOS so we are already past the point where device features will influence the eventual result.
If you can, get Google working on API's that all manufacturers must meet. Google creates API's that drive these devices. So it will be Skype to Google-TV to drivers from the manufacturers. The laptop OS model.
Just what I am looking for for my mother who refuses to touch a computer but lives 3000 km away from her grand children adn would love to see adn talk to them.
I arrived at this thread specifically looking for a device like this. Everyone has mentioned elderly or other people with an aversion to computers. However, I'm looking at it for more of a business purpose: To provide an inexpensive and super simple solution for corporate huddle rooms, small conference rooms, etc. If the box could be ordered with Lync as well, that would make it ever harder to say no to.
I say, move forward with developing this box - send me an email if you'd like to collaborate.