Facebook’s planned TV camera sounds deeply unappealing − even with its secret weapon on board

Facebook is reportedly planning to release a streaming device that would also slap a camera onto your TV.

It’s a move that suggests one of two things. Either Facebook is completely unaware of the tech community’s current perceptions of it, or it really love its ongoing role as world super-villain.

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According to a new report from The Information, the device will enable users to make video calls directly from their TV. Sounds… less than tempting, doesn’t it?

But the social network knows how to sweeten the deal. It has reportedly approached several media giants, including Netflix, Disney, Hulu, HBO and Amazon, about putting their streaming services on its device.

It isn’t yet clear how well − or indeed how badly − these talks have gone. But even if Facebook manages to get all of those big names on board, it’ll have a big job on its hands trying to convince consumers to allow it to drop a camera and microphone into their living rooms.

We don’t know what the device will be called, but its code name is ‘Catalina’, and Facebook is reportedly planning to bring it to market this autumn.

It will also come with a physical remote, and use the same video-calling technology that features on Facebook Portal and Portal Plus, the company’s not-at-all-creepy camera-equipped smart speakers, which are currently only available in the US.

Portal’s camera is AI-powered, and it can automatically pan and zoom to keep everyone in view. The microphone, meanwhile, has a feature that Facebook calls ‘Smart Sound technology’, which is designed to minimise background noise and enhance the voice of the person speaking.

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“When you make a Portal video call, we process the same device usage information as other devices with Messenger installed,” Facebook wrote in a post titled ‘Portal: Privacy and Ads’.

“This can include volume level, number of bytes received, and frame resolution — it can also include the frequency and length of your calls. Some of this information may be used to target ads. For example, if you make lots of video calls, you might see some ads related to video calling. This information does not include the contents of your Portal video calls.”

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