Sky launches TV webcam for video calling and viewing parties

British broadcaster Sky, owned by Comcast launched a new camera which is designed to add more social, fitness and gaming features to its smart TVs. The Sky Live camera attaches magnetically to the top of Sky Glass smart TVs and connects via USB-C and HDMI. It lets you watch TV at the same time as other households, lets you make video calls over Zoom, tracks home workouts, and comes with Kinect-style motion-controlled games.

Sky Live costs £290 (around $370) upfront, but it’s also on sale for £6 a month on a 48-month contract, or £12 a month on a 24-month contract. But The protector notes that Sky is also offering introductory deals that reduce the cost of the camera to £3 a month when bought with a TV. The camera needs a Sky Glass TV to function, which itself starts at £14 a month over a 48-month contract, but scales up as you add more content to your Sky package.

“Sky Live turns your TV into much more than just a TV, bringing new entertainment experiences to the heart of your home,” Sky’s global chief product officer Fraser Stirling said in a statement. “Get active with motion control games, exercise with body tracking technology, video calls on the big screen and watch TV with loved ones – even from afar. And this is just the beginning. With our powerful Entertainment OS ecosystem, it gets better with every update.”

The camera itself has a resolution of 12 megapixels with a 106-degree field of view and has four built-in microphones. It supports auto-framing to keep you in the middle of the shot during video calls, and there’s also background noise reduction that tries to keep you intelligible even when things get noisy. There’s no physical privacy shutter, instead you get a button to manually turn off the camera and microphone.

There’s no privacy shutter, but you do get a button to turn off the camera and microphone.
Image: Heaven

The Watch Together feature appears to be Sky’s version of Apple’s SharePlay, which lets you watch TV remotely with up to 11 other households, The protector notes. Friends’ video streams appear to the right of the main video feed. The feature works with all live channels and Sky’s on-demand content, but not third-party streaming services like BBC’s iPlayer or Netflix, and streams are limited to HD rather than 4K. According to What Hi-Fi, Sky claims playback should sync across all call participants (important if you’re watching live sports together), and anyone can pause or rewind the content you’re watching. After all, it should mimic watching TV together in the same room.

The fitness and gaming features are where the Kinect comparisons become clearer. There’s a built-in Mvmnt fitness app with over 130 interactive workouts, and the Sky Live camera can monitor your form and track your reps. There are also motion controlled games including Fruit Ninja (obviously), and a version of Monopoly which is controlled with the standard TV remote control and supports online multiplayer. But, like What Hi-Fi notes, Sky Live is not intended to be a hands-free controller for the TV itself. You still use a traditional remote to choose content to watch.

Disclosure: Sky’s parent company Comcast is an investor in Vox Media, The edge‘s parent company.