Smart TVs And Cameras? (8 Things You Should Know)
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Some Smart TVs have cameras built-in, usually at the center of the top bezel, but most don’t.
Some have retractable lenses making them harder to find.
It completely depends on the model.
But beyond being able to take photos and videos, why would you want a camera built-in to your Smart TV?
And does that mean the camera is spying on you all the time?
Here’s the answer to these questions and more.
Why do Smart TVs have cameras?
Smart TVs use cameras for video conferencing and gesture control. Cameras are also used to gather data for marketing and targeting advertising. The cameras can identify who’s watching and provide personalized programming suggestions.
Let’s look at each one of these in turn.
Automatic Content Recognition
Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) is technology used to identify what people are watching. It’s also used to capture viewing behavior and viewing habits.
TVs with a camera can use facial recognition in conjunction with ACR. This is then used to provide personalized streaming and programming suggestions.
ACR data is also harvested for marketing, analytics and personalized/targeted advertising purposes.
It can also be shared and/or sold to third-party firms.
Smart TV cameras can be used for two-way video chat on a large screen, like Skype. Similar to the way you would on a smartphone
They can also be used for virtual group meetings using Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Some Smart TVs use cameras to provide facial recognition.
In some Samsung H-Series and F-Series TVs, facial recognition is used for the following:
- Enable the user to get instant access to apps and other smart content.
- Provide easier and quicker ways to access the Samsung Smart Hub.
- Provides a unique way to access an address book for Skype Calls.
- Gesture control.
Some Samsung Smart TVs provide gesture control which allows you to control the TV with hand motions rather than a traditional remote.
Moving your hand will move a pointer on the screen.
Closing your hand allows you to select things on the screen such as apps.
You can even change channels or move the volume up and down.
How do I know if my Smart TV has a camera?
Most smart TVs don’t have a camera. But if it does, they are often located at the top of the TV in the center of the bezel.
On some TVs, such as LG TVs, the cameras are retractable. So you have to press a button on the top of the TV to access it.
They are usually quite obvious to see, but they can theoretically be anywhere around the edges of the TV.
If you can’t find it then you could do a quick Google search “make + model + camera”. Or you can look in the TVs manual.
If you’re wondering whether Smart TVs have secret, hidden cameras, then it’s unlikely.
TV manufacturers have a reputation to uphold, which would be in tatters if they were discovered.
Which TVs have cameras built-in to them?
Relatively few TVs have cameras built into them. Also, manufacturers have discontinued those that have them. But there are still a few models out there that have cameras.
Here are a couple of examples:
- LG 55 inch CINEMA 3D Smart TV LA9600
- Some Samsung F-Series and H-Series Smart TVs
Do Samsung Smart TVs have cameras in them?
Only some of the Samsung F-Series and H-Series models have a camera built into them. The cameras on these models are also retractable.
Are Smart TV cameras used to spy on me?
Smart TVs cameras aren’t used to spy on you. But they are used to help collect data for Automatic Content Recognition.
They are also used for video chat and controlling the TV without using a remote.
But, it is possible for a smart and capable hacker to gain access to them.
There have been reports that hackers have accessed Smart TV cameras and microphones to cyberstalk people.
Here are some of the steps you can take to protect your Smart TV from hackers:
- Change the default passwords on your WiFi router.
- Use complex passwords that are hard to guess. Three random words combined together is easy to remember but hard to guess.
- Turn off Automatic Content Recognition in your TV settings.
- Keep the firmware on your TV up to date. If you have opted out of ACR, then you may have to install TV updates manually. You can do this by downloading them from the manufacturer’s website and installing them via a USB stick.
- Cover the camera with black tape or thick cardboard when you’re not using it.
Can Smart TV cameras be turned off?
You can’t explicitly turn off the camera in a Smart TV. But you can either:
- Turn off the data collection features on Smart TVs by going into the privacy settings on your TV.
- Deny permission of apps that want to use the camera.
- Disconnect the camera if the camera is external
If the camera is built-in, you could in theory disconnect the camera, but that isn’t recommended as you would have to disassemble the TV just to access it.
You may also inadvertently disable something that is vital for your Smart TV to function.
Disabling or removing the camera may also void your warranty.
The best thing to do in this case is to buy a camera cover slide or simply cover the camera with black tape or thick cardboard.
Are Smart TV cameras always watching?
Smart TV cameras are always watching. They’re watching to either:
- Gather data for programming suggestions
- Collect data for targeted advertisements.
It’s not always obvious that a Smart TV camera is switched on. Some have LED indicators next to them, but others don’t.
Can Smart TV cameras be hacked?
It is possible for a Smart TV camera to be hacked and controlled by hackers.
This is possible if you have a rogue app running on your TV that uses the camera.
Hackers can also access the camera, often invisibly by exploiting a browser.
A hacker can also access the camera by installing an app on your TV by accessing your home WiFi network.
To reduce this risk:
- Turn off WPS on your router
- Change the default WiFi network password
- Disconnect the TV from the internet and use streaming devices like the Amazon Firestick instead. These tend to have better security but still have software vulnerabilities. They also collect usage data to make recommendations. So they aren’t perfect.
Robert Anderson, the founder of Tech Parasol, had a keen interest in tech from a very young age. He studied Electronic Engineering at University and then went on to become a Software Developer. He launched Tech Parasol in 2021 to share his knowledge with the aim of making tech easier to understand for everyone.