Earlier this month, Facebook announced Portal, a camera-equipped smart device that’s meant to compete with Amazon’s Echo Show. But the company’s hardware ambitions apparently go far beyond that: Cheddar is reporting that Facebook is working on a TV camera that would offer Portal-like video chatting on a bigger screen and allow users to stream content from Facebook Watch.
If the device — said to be codenamed “Ripley” — makes it to market, Facebook would enter into another massive smart home battleground, facing off against Amazon, Apple, Google, and Roku for valuable set-top box space. Facebook’s addition of a camera, which essentially turns your entire TV into a massive Facebook Portal, would be a differentiator for the current marketplace. (Microsoft already tried this exact thing with Skype for the Xbox One’s Kinect camera, down to the in-room tracking.)
If Facebook is making a play for the TV, it’ll need to shore up its support for apps. As it stands, the Portal supports Facebook Watch and music through Spotify and Pandora. That’s fine for a smart display, but it’s nowhere near the kind of content support Facebook will need to convince users to give up an HDMI port, especially when so many other options are out there.
And who on earth is asking to add another giant Facebook camera to their home that constantly watches over their living room like an all-seeing eye of Sauron? The company is already having a tough time getting users’ trust after a seemingly endless stream of privacy scandals, so it’s hard to imagine the solution is adding even more microphones or speakers to intrude on their lives.