Microsoft’s abandoned “Sputnik” wireless webcam

A promotional video shown to Microsoft sales staff has revealed a Microsoft wireless webcam codename “Sputnik” – a nod to the Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in space. Unlike its spacefaring counterpart however, it appears this product never quite made it off the ground.

Elements of the video including Windows XP, Windows Live Messenger 8 and a chunky CRT TV sets this product back to somewhere around 2004.

Although wireless webcams are not a new concept even at that time, but all of which are designed for security and surveillance purposes. Even till now, none have been designed and marketed specifically for the consumer space. Obvious technological limitations such as battery life, wireless quality and range might have attributed to the product’s demise.

Come to think of it, a wireless webcam still makes a lot of sense and smartphones today could easily duplicate its functionality with a combination of software on the PC and the phone. Windows Phone 7 Series app anyone?

15 insightful thoughts

  1. That guy must be gutted he missed such a banging party, almost makes the Windows 7 Launch Party video seem cool.
    Nice music used though, anyone know who it is?

  2. Well…actually there are already applications for Windows Mobile 5 and 6 that do the trick,
    namely WebCamera Plus from Ateksoft that turns your winmo phone camera into a webcam that you can use with Skype, etc. , see

  3. Wow that’s such a brilliant idea. Too bad they cancelled that. Hope Logitech will come out with one in the future.

  4. What is the difference between this and say, running a video chat application on your portable device via your wifi network? Is it the transition from desktop mode to portable mode that you find interesting?

  5. I remember a wireless webcam did existed around 2006. don’t remember the brand but i remember its range being only 10-15 meters and it costing a $100 bucks. Reason why they didn’t did well.

    But since WM 5.0 there have been software to turn a WM device into a webcam.

  6. It’s so odd to see open beer in a promotional video (even if it’s meant to be an internal one) for a consumer device.

  7. There was a Logitech wireless webcam a few years ago…

    With regards to a mobile application, I remember being very happy with Mobiola WebCam for my Nokia N95 a few years ago. It used the 5 MP camera on the phone and broadcast it to my PC over Bluetooth. The major problem with this of course, was range.

    A modern application would use WiFi, I suppose. The simplicity of Bluetooth has its advantages though.

  8. As others have mentioned, I think there are now smartphone apps which do roughly what the video shows. Qik and Kyte TV can livestream video from a smartphone, and are integrated with your social networks (the current equivalent to chatting via MSN).

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