For quite some time now it has been believed that Facebook is working on a TV-related device.
In more polite circles it is referred to as a 'TV chat' device although considering this is Facebook and the number of privacy accusations that have been leveled at the company in recent times, it seems far more appropriate to speak of this device in terms of what it really is – a device that attaches a camera to your TV.
The news on this Facebook hardware has been fairly quiet for the last few months but it looks like during that time Facebook has been busy behind the scenes trying to get a number of the major streaming services on board.
This comes from a new report out of The Information which states that Facebook has already attempted to lure in Amazon, Disney, HBO and Hulu, as well as Netflix. At present, the details do not stretch much beyond this point and so it remains to be seen if all or any of the mentioned services have agreed to lend their support.
Regardless of whether those companies are on board, the report does state streaming services will be available through the new device. In addition, the report also looks to confirm the device will come with its own physical remote control and so it would appear that Facebook is positioning the device as an actual set-top box or TV stick. Albeit, one with cameras.
This is expected to be a follow on device to the company's Portal line of smart displays. Facebook launched these displays back in 2018 and the sum of them is that they are primarily designed for making video calls and even come with some advanced features, including person-tracking technology where as the person moves, so does the camera.
This in itself has raised plenty of questions as while a number of smart displays from other brands also come equipped with a camera, they usually do as a secondary feature and with the option to permanently disable the recording abilities when wanted. This is in contrast to Facebook's solution which seems to place 'chat' element front and center.
As this is the approach Facebook has taken with its Portal line and considering this new device is expected to arrive branded as a Portal TV box, it would be expected it too will follow along the same lines of centering the hardware around the camera features with the streaming services designed as an additional means to convert users over to the product.
It still remains to be seen how much interest a product like this will generate. Although it is one thing to have a device that is potentially 'watching you' in the kitchen, it might be quite another to have it watching everyone in the living room, and this is before even taking into consideration the added Facebook element.
In either case, if the details in the report are correct, then it shouldn't be too long before what Facebook is selling fully comes to light as the report indicates the device is due to launch in the fall.