Sony made a camera for its TVs that can scold you for sitting too close

Image: Sony

Here’s the so-called “weird Sony” gadget for CES 2022: the Bravia Cam is a new video camera that will come bundled with the company’s very fanciest TVs (like the new QD-OLED A95K) and sold as an optional add-on for the rest of the lineup. You’ll be able to make video calls with it, but Sony is cramming in way more functionality than the simple stuff. The question is really whether any of the Bravia Cam’s many tricks will actually work worth a damn in the real world.

First, and this is the part I’m instinctively most wary of, the Bravia Cam will allow you to control 2022 Sony TVs with gesture controls from the couch. Want to power your TV off with a close of your fist? Have at it. Or you can pause your content or adjust the volume by waving your hand around. I’m having some Kinect flashbacks here, and it’s fair to say this isn’t an aspect of the Bravia Cam that Sony is selling me on. Not without trying it first, anyway.

Image: Sony
The Bravia Cam mounts to the top of the TV and plugs into the USB port.

The other uses seem a little more interesting. With the Bravia Cam plugged in, you can set your Sony TV to display a proximity alert if it detects someone sitting too close to the screen. This is really intended for kids — the entire screen gets blacked out if you don’t move back — and is off by default. The camera can also be used for what Sony calls “viewing distance compensation,” with the brightness and voice emphasis settings both automatically adjusting based on how far away you’re sitting. Even the left and right channel sound balance can adjust itself for what side of the couch you’re planted on.

And last is a power-saving feature where your Bravia TV will automatically dim if the Bravia Cam detects you’ve left the room. The timeframe where this happens can be adjusted anywhere from a minute after you leave to a full hour.

When it first gets to customers, the Bravia Cam will only be good for video chatting; Sony says a firmware update will be required to unlock all of its other features. For the privacy-conscious out there, there’s a hardware switch for physically turning off the camera and its built-in mic. Sony says that mic is used strictly for video chats — it’s not always listening — and according to the company, no private data is ever stored on the camera, the TV, or Sony’s servers. You can wipe the camera’s data at any time from your TV’s settings.

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