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The future of television is fiddling around with extra gadgets, closing pop-up advertisements, chatting with friends, and maybe a bit of shows on the side.

The familiar gang of social apps and picture-menu navigation will chase us into the living room and into our TV sets in the coming year, according to Intel.

Chipzilla's digital home group general manager, William Leszinske, said Intel has been pushing its consumer electronics manufacturer customers to add more advanced capabilities into the television sets they sell. The motive for Intel - obviously - is to get its newest chips inside the next incarnation of web-enabled TVs and set-top boxes.

Leszinske said to expect the Consumer Electronics Show to be "awash" with connected TVs this years, representing only the first currents of the coming storm. And Intel has been major advocate of it all.

"One of the things we did recently is have a good group of social scientists and a bunch of engineers trying to push the envelope in what can be done in the living room set," said Leszinske, speaking at iHollywood's Digital Living Room conference in Santa Clara on Tuesday. "We let them go wild earlier this year, and asked them to push our partners to enable the most advanced usage and capabilities to show them where we think things are going to go."

Leszinske demonstrated this with a video showing a flashy 3D wheel to navigate content, voice recognition to find shows, contextual pop-up ads relating to what products appear on a show, and friend requests to watch a program together while on video chat — all coming from the TV.

"While it seems really advanced, we're working with a number of companies today that will have an interface like it in 2010," Leszinske said.

Only the contextual pop-up ads aren't ready for prime time yet, he added. Providence willing. But he claims its not something Intel is pushing on consumers. It's only responding to their demands.

According to Leszinske, the first wave of internet-enabled apps that will appear on web-connected TVs will be familiar social apps like Facebook or Twitter, tweaked slightly for a TV platform.

"We think a lot of these capabilities can easily and quickly be migrated from a PC to the television. But that's just the starting point. Once developers get comfortable moving apps from a PC environment to a television environment, it creates an incentive to create new applications made for the television," he said.

And so no device is safe from software updates and the social networking craze in the future. Even dear old simple telly. ®

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