Intel has finally confirmed what has been speculation and rumor for that past few months. The chipset giant will sell a set top box directly to consumers later this year. The project has been in the works for the past year and operating under the Intel Media brand.
Erik Huggers is the VP at Intel Media and he unveiled a few details at the AllThingsD conference. Previous rumors and stories have pointed to an a la carte option versus traditional bundles. Potential customers on blogs and forums were extremely vocal about this possibility, but Huggers confirmed the US is not fully ready for an a la carte option. Instead, Intel will be selling different bundled options, but they did not get into any more detail.
One surprise was the addition of a camera on the set top box. This alone is not really a shock with the emerging video sharing technologies, but the camera is going to be used to offer a personalized experience and targeted advertising. Huggers did point out that the camera will have a physical shutter and users will be able to close it, but just the idea of someone watching you might be too large of a turn off.
Details of who can view the data or if it can be sold to advertisers will be a huge talking point as it comes closer to launching. If the box will integrate video services like Skype it would seem like a microphone would be included. Will Intel and its advertisers have access to any audio from that microphone?
The camera could be used for things like content recognition and that would be a nice feature. If I walk up to the TV at 7am everyday and turn on ESPN, maybe the box and camera combination could see it is me and based on my habits turn the box to ESPN for me. Unlocking profiles via a face unlock feature could be another potential use with a camera.
Regardless of the potential features and simplicity, the company has a large hurdle to battle. What will the camera be looking for, when will it be on, what will they do with the data and who has access to it? This is not going to be an easy sale to potential customers if they value their privacy.
If the company went through with their true a la carte offering then users might be a little more open to the camera, but with regular priced bundles similar to existing cable I can’t see this taking off. It is still early on and we don’t have full details, but so far it does not appear to be a game changer.
Intel’s Rumored Set-top Box Would Target Ads to Individuals
Intel is said to be working on a camera-equipped set-top cable box that will target ads based on who’s watching.