Facebook is reportedly developing a set-top box like device for televisions. As per the media outlet Cheddar, the device’s internal codename is “Ripley” and it’s aimed at enabling video calling and access to service like Facebook Watch. It is said to use the same technology as the company’s recently announced Portal device and could employ AI to detect and follow people that are moving about in the frame during a video call. As per the report, Ripley could be announced by 2019 and go up against the likes of Apple, Amazon and Google. The company has declined to comment on the subject.
Facebook will need to come up with more than just Facebook Watch and a handful of apps to entice customers. Additionally, it remains to be seen if people will trust Facebook enough to buy a device that turns their TV into a camera. It is yet to be seen how the Portal video calling devices will perform after the constant privacy slip-ups and data leaks. The Portal and Portal+ are two AI-powered video calling devices that the company claims are made keeping users’ privacy and security in mind and come with tools that give users control over their data.
Both the Portal devices come with Alexa integration and while Portal sports a 10-inch display with a 1280 x 800p resolution, the Portal+ features a 15-inch display with 1920 x 1080p resolution. They sport ‘Smart Camera and Smart Sound’ technology for a hands-free experience. The Smart Camera follows actions and automatically pans and zooms to keep the subject in view, while the Smart Sound feature is said to reduce background noise and enhance the voice of the user who is talking.
Facebook says that users can completely disable the camera and microphone on the Portal devices with a single tap, similar to Amazon's Echo devices. They also come with a camera cover for a user’s peace of mind and they will still get to receive incoming calls and notifications, and use voice commands.