Facebook is reportedly planning to follow up its Portal video chat devices with a standalone camera that will attach to user’s living room television sets.
The device, which is internally codenamed ‘Ripley’ according to the report, will sit on top of the television set, while also offering access to video streaming services like Facebook Watch.
Cheddar sources say Facebook plans to announce the Ripley device, which will build upon the AI camera tech that follows users around the room when engaging in video chat, sometime in the spring of 2019.
The idea from Facebook appears to be that there’s no need for video chatters to purchase another screen when they can get a better experience from using the biggest display in their house – the television set.
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Given this device would sit atop the existing display it would likely allow Facebook to get the price down from the $199 starting price for its Portal displays.
Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen an attempt to bring video chatting to the television set. The Skype app for Xbox used the Kinect sensor in order to facilitate video chats, while some sets have included built-in webcams for this purpose.
The problem for Facebook with this, and its existing Portal devices, is convincing a wary public to welcome a video camera made by the company, not only into their home, but pointing right at them when they settle in to watch television each night.
Thankfully, for temped but privacy conscious Brits, Facebook may never seek the opportunity in Blighty. The Portal smart displays go on sale in the US next month, but there’s no word on a UK release yet.
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