Microsoft has been granted a video conferencing patent that leverages a home network as the data infrastructure and the TV as the display screen.
Microsoft says it can reduce latencies compared to previous video conferencing approaches, but the patent does not indicate that the company has solved the general problem of home videoconferencing itself.
The patent suggests that a PC client, connected to a TV via a TV client module, can serve as the Internet and data connection, while the TV and a cheap USB camera connected to the TV are used as the visual data output devices. the data between the TV and computer would be accelerated via a remote desktop protocol (RDP), while the incoming and outgoing data traffic is IP-based. In this patent, the PC serves as the data hub, while the TV avoids a scenario in which a user will have to leave the living room to make a visual call.
Of course, video conferences are valuable in business environments and are beneficial to those who need to bridge substantial distance to keep in touch with loved ones. However, in the majority of cases, visual calls are more hassle and are more inconvenient than simple phone calls or even chat messages. Consumer teleconferencing services such as Mingleverse, for example, have failed because we tend to feel rather awkward in front of a camera and there are plenty of cases when we just don't want someone to see us - or our living room.