Throughout the last decade or so, TV manufacturers have often dabbled with building cameras into the bezel of some of their best televisions. Samsung, Sony, LG and Vizio have done so most recently, with ranges featuring a lens set into the frame, but they've not always been welcomed.
Privacy concerns have meant that customers have been far from enthusiastic about the idea - after all, who wants an always-on camera peering at them while they watch Coronation Street (apart from the cast of Gogglebox)?
I also felt the same until I tried Sky Live, the new external camera that exclusively works with Sky Glass. Now I can see how it can work, combat concerns, and expand the usefulness of the glowing rectangular box that takes pride of place in the living room.
Admittedly, Sky Glass is not a conventional TV to begin with. It offers live TV channels, plus catch-up and on demand video, much like most smart sets, but it streams everything over the internet. However, there's no reason why a Sky Live-style experience wouldn't work with any television.
Where a TV is designed for passive viewing, Sky Live adds a wealth of interactive features, and all through a 2D 12-megapixel colour camera. That means you can have video calls with friends and family, share silly videos with AR Snapchat-style effects, watch football matches and films with remote loved ones, and take part in fitness workouts thanks to intelligent, software-driven full body motion tracking.
The tracking also works with a big selection of games, such as mobile favourite Fruit Ninja and Starri - a music rhythm game in the style of Beat Saber. And, it's great fun - like the Xbox Kinect of yesteryear, except the tracking is more accurate and latency less obvious.
I had a go on Fruit Ninja myself and thoroughly enjoyed it (although I watched one of the demonstrators play Starri as there were others in the room at the time and I would have made a right show of it). From my brief experience, I can see those and the other dozen or so games being big hits with all ages.
Add the workout functionality, which is precise enough to tell you when you're not bending properly into a squat, and I'm convinced that there are plenty of uses beyond straightforward video chats (which probably peaked during the pandemic). Certainly enough to welcome a future where many TVs come with built-in cameras. Sky Live might be a separate device that sits on top for now, but as Sky told me, there's no reason it can't be built into a Sky Glass 2, for example.
It depends how successful that particular device is, of course, but I can see other manufacturers following suit. We've had some of the features I've mentioned in a multitude of devices before, but it is the amalgamation of the different functions that makes it easier to set up and use, and, therefore, more appealing.
And let's not forget the fact that there's a physical button to turn it off.
That's probably the most important feature of them all - and addresses those privacy concerns in the simplest way possible. Much like Amazon has with some of its Echo Show devices, too.
Perhaps that's where TV manufacturers have been going wrong in the past - sometimes you just need to take a step back to go forward. Slap a small plastic button on it and I, like many others I suspect, am sold.