LG Electronics announced today it’s releasing a webcam for its TVs called the LG Smart Cam (VC23GA). It’s a $99 1080p camera with dual microphones, a physical privacy shutter, and support for webOS’s multi-view feature, which shows two apps in a split-screen view on the TV. The webcam is supported on any TV running webOS 22 or webOS 23.
LG is pitching this camera as a way to do videoconferencing at home using the webOS RemoteMeeting app, LG’s web-based videoconferencing service. On the fitness side, it’s compatible with Exercite, which uses the webcam to analyze your movements and give you live feedback, and Flexit, a fitness platform with one-on-one wellness and exercise coaching. There’s also a K-pop dance app called Home Dance by 1M, which LG developed with 1Million Dance Studio and gives you K-pop dance tutorials.
The biggest problem with the camera is webOS and the fact that I have to explain what all of these apps are. The apps people are familiar with and want to use may not actually be available on an LG TV because webOS is wholly its own platform and can’t run popular Android and tvOS apps unless they’re ported over.
Sure, the RemoteMeeting app is web-based, and anyone could use it, but good luck convincing your whole team not to use Zoom or Google Meet because you want to sit on your couch and not use your laptop or whatever. It feels like a pitch that’s a little late, too, given the pandemic that sent so many of us indoors has mostly abated, at least from a policy standpoint.
Especially because… there are quite a few TV webcam solutions available right now. Sony released a fancier TV-based webcam for twice the price for its Bravia TVs. The $199 Bravia Cam has serious Kinect vibes thanks to its gesture controls, and it can tell when your kids are sitting too close to the TV. The UK-based Sky TV released an even more expensive camera called the Sky Live just a few days ago. That one starts at £290 (about $370), can do Kinect-style motion controls, but also has RGB lights in the back.
Maybe the most compelling camera for TVs option is Apple’s Continuity Camera feature, which is expanding to the Apple TV later this year. Since it works with Apple TV, you don’t have to buy a specific TV to buy it — you just need a $129 Apple TV streaming box and a mount if you don’t want to lean your phone on your Xbox or whatever.
Webcams for TVs are coming, and having used AirPlay in the past for FaceTime on my TV, it’s an occasional nice-to-have, but it needs good support via an app ecosystem, and I’m not convinced by the Smart Cam.
We’ve reached out to LG to find out if more apps are coming and if the camera will be supported on PCs at any point.