Could Sky Live kill off Sky's zapper once and for all?

When it comes to movies, I'm not particularly social. I'll go out of my way to avoid busy cinemas, preferring mid-week afternoon showings to crowded weekends, when it's usually just me and a few like-minded curmudgeons. The mere sight of someone scrolling their smartphone nearby, even before the house lights have gone down, is enough to provoke an anxiety attack.

Even in my own home theatre, I'll give a family member the snake-eye if they dare to double-screen when I hit play.

So Sky Live probably isn't designed with me in mind. This diminutive smart camera, made for Sky Glass, is all about social viewing. I've been living with one for a while, and while my general aversion to bigscreen bonhomie remains undimmed, I've got to admit this gregarious tech is starting to win me over.

Vision of the future?
Much of what Sky Live offers isn't new. Elements of it have been around for ages, in various forms. Casual gesture-based gaming goes all the way back to the Xbox Kinect, while a Watch Together mode for movies and sports is already available on Prime Video and Disney+. But Sky Live brings all this together in a simple to use package that adds a fiver a month to your Sky Glass subscription.

It's also a nice piece of kit. The Sky Live camera sits on top of the Sky Glass TV, held in place by magnets, and able to be angled up or down. Power comes from a USB dongle which plugs into the back of the set. Of course, it also hijacks one of the TV's three HDMI inputs.

The camera is automatically recognised by Sky's Entertainment OS. A new Sky Live content rail then appears in the Sky Glass interface, with tabs inviting users to Video Call, Play, Watch Together and Work Out. The latter opens a fitness app complete with video instructors; the camera has nifty body tracking technology to keep a close eye on your squats, courtesy of its 12MP sensor and wide field of view.

It can monitor me for as long as it likes. The only squatting I'm likely to do is over a plate of nachos.

The Watch Together app has more obvious appeal. Up to four other Sky Live users can be invited to a watch party, letting everyone chat away during Black Adam or A League of their Own. I don't actually know four other Sky Glass users, but the set's selling like gangbusters so it can only be a matter of time.

Sky Live games are a fun distraction and include hits like Fruit Ninja and Whack-a-Mole. For the hardcore there's Starri, which is a beat-based music game. All are included in your monthly charge.

More novel applications include VideoBooth and pandemic favourite Zoom. The former uses AR to dress you with various virtual adornments, like a gorilla head or inflatable flamingo. Video clips or photos can then be shared over socials.

It's all impressively executed. But I'm really intrigued by what comes next. Surely it won't be too long before Sky Live's functionality is integrated into the main Sky Glass UI.

'Is it possible? Absolutely!' Fraser Stirling, Sky's Global Chief Product Officer, told me. The tech is already in development, he says, with a view to using the precision and resolution of the Sky Live camera to control TV, as an adjunct to voice commands.

Not big gestures, as tried by the likes of Samsung years ago, but small, tablet-style interactions. For example, a fingertip pinch motion to increase or decrease TV volume.

Could Sky Live herald the end of the remote control as we know it? Answer with a gesture only...