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Intel ditching controversial facial recognition features for its upcoming set-top box

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Intel (STOCK)
Intel (STOCK)

Intel's been open about its plans to launch a connected set-top box for the living room since earlier this year, but one feature that raised some eyebrows won't be included when the product launches: a camera with facial recognition capabilities. The Wall Street Journal reports on Intel's latest plans, with Intel Media's Erik Huggers stating that the bundled camera has been dropped for the time being because it didn't perform well in low-light conditions and because of privacy concerns. Reuters reported that Intel was working on a TV platform that would use facial recognition to target ads back in 2012, but when Huggers confirmed Intel's TV plans this past February he framed the feature as a way for viewers across the country to watch programs together, or a system for delivering personalized recommendations.

A server-side DVR that records everything

According to the Journal, Intel hopes to provide a better television viewing experience for its customers by recording all aired programming — be it a local broadcast, or an international show — and storing it on a massive server farm for at least three days. It will allow Intel's service to function like a DVR that is set to record every single show, without the user having to worry about scheduling or storage. The company will also be including voice recognition features in its system, along with the expected changes like a new on-screen interface and custom remote control.

From Roku to the Apple TV to Chromecast, Intel will be entering a crowded market — but its one that no single company has really cracked yet. The Journal reports that Apple has been experimenting with a number of different features to bolster the Apple TV — from integrated DVR storage and voice interaction — while Microsoft has been looking at several options itself. The Xbox One has been largely touted as an all-in-one entertainment device, but the company is also said to have looked into building an Apple TV-style device of its own, or adding Xbox functionality to TVs themselves.

Still on schedule for launch this year

Intel is said to be testing its service with 2,500 employees in three different states, and while it has already stated it will be launching by the end of the year, according to the Journal negotiations with content companies could hold back certain features from being available right away. In any case, with this latest news it appears Intel will be trying to do one thing that no other big-name player has really attempted: using the internet to create a superior core television-watching experience first, and adding additional bells, whistles, and connected functionality second.