Skype Invades Your Living Room

It's not common for the name of a computer program to evolve into a verb. In fact, I can only readily think of only two examples: Photoshop and Skype.

And in Skype's case, the use of their name is going to become a lot more frequent thanks to some new tech introduced at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show.

Skype has provided free voice and video calling for years, offering computer users a way to save on long distance fees and enjoy face time with loved ones with minimal fuss. Now it's time for Skype to break free of the computer -- and it's headed straight to your living room.

Both Panasonic and LG have partnered with Skype to offer voice and video chat on select new HDTV models. Panasonic sets with VIERA Cast and those from LG with NetCast Entertainment Access are slated to ship with living room-to-living room capabilities. Initially the sets will only support 720P video (the first rung on the high-def ladder), whereas the Skype software recently stepped up to full 1080P (which offers six times higher resolution).

So what's next for Skype?

Gaming consoles are a safe bet. After all, the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii can all utilize webcams and they're all internet-connected. Producing a Skype app for each would put it on more than 100 million devices people already own--no need for a fancy new HDTV!

Skype now accounts for 12% of all international calls - up more than 50% from last year. That number will almost certainly climb again as the software starts creeping onto our home electronics. The convenience factor is a huge key, and further freeing Skype from computers will certainly offer that convenience.
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