Following the launch of its Portal smart display, Facebook is planning on putting even more cameras and microphones into homes this year. New variants of the smart home hardware are coming this year, according to the company's Vice President of AR/VR, Andrew Bosworth.
Speaking on stage at the Code Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, "Boz", as he is known in Silicon Valley, said: "We have a lot more that we’re going to unveil later in this fall, new form factors that we’re going to be shipping." Bosworth also explained that the reason behind Facebook's decision to allow users to video chat across its Messenger and WhatsApp services was because "there’s a whole new generation of hardware coming out."
The first generation of Facebook Portal launched in November 2018 in the United States with Canadian and European launches now confirmed for this Autumn too. The smart display, which features a camera that tracks 'callers' around the home, was met with skepticism when it was first unveiled, largely due to privacy issues.
Rumors circulating suggest that Facebook could be working on a form factor that features just the tracking camera and ditches the display. It could be connected to a TV for video calls, and would likely be much cheaper. Bosworth said: "Hardware is coming to the home, and we want to make sure that human connection, the connection between two people, is a first-party experience on that hardware."
Mark Zuckerberg has already announced that he wants to bring Facebook's products closer together, including some kind of merger between Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp into a single chat service. Facebook Portal could also become part of that merger with the launch of this new hardware.
We'll have to wait and see what Facebook shows us later in the year, but a stronger focus on that tracking camera in the wake of the company's growing mountain of privacy and data security scandals will certainly ruffle a few feathers. What do you think?