Well it has finally happened. Sony has announced a chat service for the EyeToy making the PS2 into a video conferencing unit on the cheap.

On show at E3 in May and in store from summer 2004, ‘EyeToy: Chat' utilises the Network Adaptor and the EyeToy for PlayStation 2 to connect to the internet to make calls a la Instant Messaging style.

‘EyeToy: Chat' offers four very different ways to communicate including text, voice, video mail and one to one video chat. The ‘text chat' rooms allow 256 people to talk together, while 16 people can converse at one time in the ‘voice chat' rooms

The more competitive chatterboxes also have the option to play one of three games together while using the one on one video chat, including: Chess, Draughts and ‘Naval War'. ‘EyeToy: Chat' also gives you the chance of sending 30-second video mail messages to people on your buddies list... Which can be much more fun than leaving a message on an answer phone!

SCEE has worked very closely with several children's charities to ensure that ‘EyeToy: Chat' is safe as possible to use for even the youngest members of the family. New ‘EyeToy: Chat' users will be required to register their details online at PlayStation Net; they will then need to verify their details by inputting the PIN number sent to their address. With strict safety measures in place, chat room moderators and clear processes for grievances, ‘EyeToy: Chat' is one of the safest communication packages available on any system on the market.

The service will be free, however you will need to buy EyeToy Chat to access the services.