Facebook is reportedly planning to release a device that works with televisions that can stream video from services like YouTube and comes equipped with a camera for video calls, people familiar with the matter told Cheddar.
The news comes a week after Facebook debuted Portal and Portal+ for Messenger video calls and functionality similar to smart displays such as the Google Home Hub or Amazon Echo Show. Portal devices will also speak with Amazon’s Alexa. The team that made Portal will continue to make hardware for consumers with the goal of bringing them closer with friends and Facebook’s family of apps, VP Rafa Camargo told VentureBeat in an interview.
Codenamed Project Ripley, the device will use similar technology as the Portal and Portal+, which harnesses artificial intelligence to recognize people in view in order to automatically zoom and pan and frame each shot. AI is also deployed on Portal devices to amplify sound.
The device is scheduled for release in spring 2019, the anonymous source said, though that date could be postponed. Portal devices were supposedly scheduled to be released in spring 2018 but were delayed followed the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
If this rumor is true, it appears the device from Facebook will compete with other video streaming services such as Roku, Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast, and Amazon’s Fire TV.
The Project Ripley device would provide a way to promote trending social media content as well as Facebook Watch or IGTV. Both services made to compete with the likes of YouTube are relatively new, with IGTV making its debut in June, and Watch going global for the first time in August.
Data about calls made using Portal and apps used on the device will be used for ad targeting on other Facebook apps and services, according to reporting from Recode today. The Ripley device for televisions could likely provide similar data for ad targeting, or utilize a third-party ecosystem of apps being created for Portal and Portal+.
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