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The device, reportedly referred to internally as “Ripley,” will be optimized for Facebook’s burgeoning TV platform, Watch. The set-top box would let you stream Watch shows to your television, though it’s not clear if it would support content from other platforms.
In addition to streaming, the box would also be equipped with a camera similar to Facebook’s recently announced Portal speakers. Like Portal, Ripley would enable video calling.
It’s not clear when Facebook would launch such a product. Cheddar reports the company delayed its initial plans due to privacy concerns surrounding the company, but that Ripley could launch in the spring of 2019.
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
A set-top box would be the second piece of non-Oculus hardware to come out of Facebook. It also demonstrates how invested the social network is in ensuring the success in its streaming service, Watch. The company has been investing steadily in new programming and features that it hopes will lure creators away from YouTube.
But it hasn’t been clear if Facebook has been very successful in directing its billions of users to view content on Watch. By creating a dedicated device for the service, it would no longer need to rely on people discovering its shows via its bloated app and website.
Adding a camera and video chat features, like those in Portal, could be a further draw for some people (provided they aren’t concerned about their privacy). Facebook launched Portal earlier this month, touting the in-home speaker as the ideal video chat accessory due to its intelligent camera that can “follow” you as you move around the room.
The speaker has since been criticized for not doing enough to address concerns about Facebook’s privacy policies and its use of data for ad targeting purposes. But releasing Ripley would show it’s still intent on embedding itself deeper into users’ lives and homes.
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