Facebook is working on a TV-connected device that combines streaming with video chat, according to a new Cheddar report. The device, code-named Ripley, is reportedly based on some of the same technology as Facebook’s recently unveiled Portal smart display.
Ripley is reportedly still in development, but could be unveiled in the spring of 2019. Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Traces of Ripley first surfaced last week, when Hong Kong-based reverse engineering mastermind Jane Manchun Wong tweeted about discovering the name in some Facebook code.
Facebook Portal products are Android-based.
Portal+'s device name "Aloha", while Portal is "Ohana".
While spectating their app code, it seems they have another media device codenamed "Ripley"
I wonder if it's an actual device, or just for debug 🤔
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) October 8, 2018
Cheddar reported Tuesday that the device will include a video camera, and is meant to be placed atop of a TV set. In addition to video chat functionality, the device would likely offer access to Facebook Watch, as well as third-party video services.
Facebook unveiled Portal earlier this month. The device can best be described as the company’s answer to smart displays like Amazon’s Echo Show and Google’s Home Hub, with a big focus on smart video chat features. Portal’s wide-angle camera can track people during a video chat, and keep subjects in focus even if they move throughout a room.
The device also makes use of Amazon’s Alexa assistant for voice control, and it incorporates videos from Facebook Watch, Discovery’s Food Network and E.W. Scripps’ Newsy, with plans to add other partners in the near future.
Facebook first planned to announce Portal earlier this year, but ended up postponing the launch following the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal. The company responded to privacy concerns by adding a plastic clip to the device that allows users to physically cover its camera.