updated 06:40 pm EST, Sat January 7, 2012
Comcast preps Skype cam for cable hardware
Comcast is preparing its own webcam for Skype video calls that could bypass the usual computing link. Both an FCC filing noted by Wireless Goodness as well as a leak to Engadget have pointed to the camera, called Astro, attaching to a cable set-top box with an HDMI passthrough for other sources. It could work audio-only or with text and would support picture-in-picture to avoid completely interrupting an ongoing show.
A special remote would be used to steer Skype independently of cable.
As described, the actual service would rely on a typical cable provider practice of wanting a more expensive subscription service instead of a cheaper, one-time purchase. A "basic service" with unknown features would cost $10 per month and would need an extra $10 for every extra adapter in the home. Webcams typically cost well under $100, and Skype itself is normally free.
Comcast might choose CES to unveil the Xfinity-linked Skype camera, although this isn't confirmed either by the FCC approval or the link.