×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Intel Realizes People Don’t Want a Set-Top That Watches Them

Chip giant removes camera and facial ID feature from forthcoming Internet TV service, citing privacy issues and tech limitations

Intel Media is eliminating the camera and facial-recognition features from the set-top box for its forthcoming Internet TV service — concluding that any gee-whiz upside from the tech outweighed the likelihood of creeping out many prospective customers.

The chip giant cited limitations of the technology as well as privacy concerns, including from its partners, for the decision. The facial ID feature, which users could have disabled, was supposed to let Intel’s service offer personalized content suggestions and potentially targeted advertising.

SEE ALSO: The Big Bet at Intel Corp. That Could Change TV

Intel Media chief Erik Huggers, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, said part of the problem was that facial-recognition tech doesn’t work well in low-light living room settings. But Huggers said what “pushed me over the hump” to ixnay the camera-enabled was the public backlash over the revelations of the NSA’s secret electronic-surveillance program, which monitors phone calls and email communications in the U.S. to identify potential terrorist threats.

Aside from the now-abandoned “spy” set-top, Intel faces monumental challenges in taking on big cable and satellite TV operators with its over-the-top service.

The company is aiming to launch the service later in 2013, but has struggled to sign pacts with major media companies for TV content. Big programmers may be balking at the kinds of usage rights the chip company is seeking: The Intel Media service is being designed with massive network DVR farms, to store all linear TV content for the previous three days, according to the Journal.

While Intel says cost was not a consideration in scrapping the feature, the removal of the high-quality camera will help the lower the bill of materials for the box — meaning it will carry a lower price point at retail.

Actually, the majority of consumers do not have serious objections with a set-top equipped with facial-recognition features, according to Strategy Analytics survey released earlier this month. However, a sizeable 43% of consumers said they would “probably” or “never” accept such monitoring, the survey found.

Meanwhile, a U.S. representative in June introduced legislation in response to privacy concerns about set-tops with monitoring capabilities. The bill would force video providers to display the message “We are watching you” if they use devices that track users’ activity.

SEE ALSO: Surprise: Most TV Viewers Aren’t Alarmed by Camera-Enabled Set-Top Boxes

More Digital

  • Alibaba Buys 8% Stake in Chinese

    Alibaba Buys 8% Stake in Chinese Video Platform Bilibili

    Alibaba has purchased an 8% stake in the Chinese online video platform Bilibili, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Bilibili is one of China’s top video streaming and entertainment platforms, with about 92 million monthly active users and 450 million page-views per day. Founded in 2009, it was listed on the NASDAQ last March. Alibaba’s [...]

  • Clevver-Logo

    Hearst Magazines Buys Clevver's Pop-Culture YouTube Channels After Defy's Demise

    Hearst Magazines has snapped up Clevver, a network of female-skewing lifestyle and pop-culture news YouTube channels that had been owned by now-defunct Defy Media. Clevver was left homeless after Defy’s sudden shutdown in November; its principals said at the time they were looking for a new home. Hearst Magazines sees a digital fit with Clevver’s [...]

  • "Brother" -- Episode 201-- Pictured (l-r):

    CBS Interactive's Marc DeBevoise on Streaming Boom, Content Strategy, and Apple

    Not everyone wants or needs to be Netflix to succeed in the streaming space. And not everyone sees Apple’s enigmatic new service as a threat. Even as rival streaming services offer gobs of content, CBS Interactive’s president and COO Marc DeBevoise sees the company’s targeted original programming strategy continuing to attract viewers to its All [...]

  • Rhett-Link-Good-Mythical-Morning

    Rhett & Link's Mythical Entertainment in Talks to Acquire Smosh (EXCLUSIVE)

    Smosh, the YouTube comedy brand left stranded after parent company Defy Media went belly-up, may be about to get a new business partner. Mythical Entertainment, the entertainment company founded by top YouTube comedy duo Rhett & Link, has been in talks about acquiring the Smosh brand, sources told Variety. Multiple potential buyers came forward to [...]

  • Pokemon Go

    Proposed 'Pokémon Go' Lawsuit Settlement May Remove Poké Stops, Gyms

    A proposed settlement in the class action lawsuit against “Pokémon Go” developer Niantic could remove or change a number of Poké Stops and Gyms in the popular augmented reality game. The proposed settlement was filed in a California court on Thursday and applies to anyone in the U.S. who owns or leases property within 100 meters [...]

  • Skyline of Doha at night with

    Qatar's beIN Rallies Support From U.S. Companies Against Pirate Broadcaster beoutQ

    Qatari powerhouse beIN Media Group has rallied support from American sports and entertainment entities, including Discovery and Fox, behind its request that the U.S. government place Saudi Arabia on its watch list of top intellectual property offenders. The Doha-based broadcaster, a state-owned spinoff of Al Jazeera news network, accuses the Saudi government of harboring pirate broadcaster [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content