Intel puts a new face on Internet TV

Attendees crowd around an Intel perceptual technology display during the 2013 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Quick, when I say Intel, what comes to mind? The stuff inside your PC, right? The chips that make it run. Well, Intel has decided to get into something a little more visible: Internet TV. And you won’t be the only one watching it, the TV will be watching you.

Intel says it’s making a TV set top box that’ll deliver Internet TV and will have a built-in camera that’ll recognize you. It’s part of a growing trend on the part of tech companies, which are trying to make gadgets that can get to know you, said Michele Reitz, an analyst at Gartner.

“It really is just about personalization, having the ability to recognize you and then give you options that’ll recognize you,” Reitz said. “So for instance, if it's your 6-year-old kid,” the TV might say, ‘Hey Junior, here’s some cartoons you can watch.'"

But if Reitz walked into the room, it’ll show her something more age-appropriate.

Privacy, of course, is going to be an issue. But the Internet TV space is getting crowded. And tech giants -- from Google to Apple and Samsung -- need to find a way to differentiate themselves.

Computer chips have been Intel’s bread and butter, says Vijay Rakesh, an analyst at Sterne Agee. But that market is slowing down and Intel needs to pivot toward smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.

“In your TV, there is mobile connectivity. In your cars, there’s mobile connectivity,” said Rakesh. “It’s always an opportunity for somebody like Intel to step in.”

Brian Steinberg, an analyst with Tech Savvy, says the living room is the one frontier that no tech company’s captured. And if Intel can capture the TV, it’ll get closer to capturing all the devices -- your phone, your tablet -- that’ll talk to it, he said.  

“There’s really one single innovation that’s really revolutionalized the way that the iPhone did the smartphone,” said Steinberg.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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