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Daleks invade your living room as BBC trials Wi-Fi toys

A new BBC system called Universal Control lets your Internet-enabled TV transmit to other devices over Wi-Fi. Obvious first choice: daleks.

Dalek toys that magically spring to life every time Doctor Who is on TV? Not a nefarious intergalactic plot to exterminate us all in our living rooms, but rather a new way of using Internet-enabled TVs to control external gadgets. Kids think it's cool, adults think it's cute -- we think it's terrifying.

The system, dubbed 'Universal Control', works by transmitting code to the Wi-Fi enabled pepper-pots to tell them to mimic the onscreen actions of their copper-coloured counterparts in real time.

While it's unlikely your new megalomaniac cyborg chum will end up acting out its entire choreography or screeching a string of non-sequitur dialogue at you, hopefully it'll scare your bemused cat and occasionally yell "EXTERMINATE!"

"It's a playful illustration that shows the possibilities that exist to producers when we start to think about future connectivity in a home environment in which all devices will be Internet connected," project director Adrian Woolard told the Telegraph. "Effectively this puts another actor in the living room, enabling a production team to write a script and include it as part of the viewer's experience."

The trial has involved BBC technologist Andrew Bonney recording the movements of the Daleks on an episode of Doctor Who and embedding the code into the clip from the show. Bonney's technical wizardry allowed the clip to trigger and transmit the movement codes to the prototype Dalek toy. The hope is that this can be simulcast with the live broadcast of episodes and embedded on the DVD and Blu-ray releases.

The Daleks are the longest-running and best known villain in Doctor Who, which celebrated its 48th birthday on Wednesday. Though harrowing part-tank, part-plunger on the outside, within the shell is the organic Dalek form, a race of genetically engineered monsters who can feel only hate -- like cosmic Nazis with the emotional range of Charlie Brooker.

Current Doctor Who show-runner Steven Moffat is notably averse to featuring the Daleks -- they were heavily used by his predecessor Russell T Davies -- so it remains to be seen how much use will really be gotten out of these toys. In the latest series, which ended in early October, the only appearance of a Dalek was a fleeting glimpse of a broken one lying stationary on its side.

How do you feel about these juddering monstrosities invading your home? Leave your best all-caps impressions in the comments below, or on our Facebook wall.

Image credit: BBC