Inside an inviting Victorian home in San Francisco, Facebook employees showcase the latest models of the social network’s Portal video chat devices. One model, sitting atop a TV, lets you video chat with friends and family on a big screen. The other devices are arranged on a shelf like photo frames. The message is clear: Facebook is going all in on smart displays.
Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, who heads Facebook’s augmented and virtual reality business, says the Portal devices help his family stay connected, even though his parents live near his house and see their grandchildren often. Photos of Bosworth’s family appear on the smart displays behind him.
“It’s improved the relationship that not only that I have with my parents but also the relationship they have with my kids, and that’s really meaningful to us,” Bosworth said of the devices.
On Wednesday, the world’s largest social network took the wraps off a new lineup of its Portal video chat devices, underscoring its relentless effort to embed itself even more deeply in the daily lives of its 2.4 billion users. Getting people to bring a Facebook camera and microphone into their homes, though, could be a tough sell. The company’s poor record for privacy will make it hard to convince consumers that the conversations they have in their living rooms will stay there.