News broke today that Facebook is working on new hardware products in order to join the connected homes market. These audio only and video chat devices beg the question, the more our homes become connected will we have less privacy?
Facebook is currently developing a “video chat device” designed for use in the home, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The product, which could be announced next spring, includes a large touchscreen, wide-angle camera, microphones, and speakers. In concept, this sounds very similar to the Echo Show that Amazon recently released to build out its lineup of home-based hardware. Bloomberg also mentions that Facebook wants to use artificial intelligence for advanced camera features including one that would “scan for people in its range and lock onto them.”
Several home cameras on the market already offer this type of functionality, including the Nest Cam IQ, which can be set up to recognize and identify people in your home. But Facebook would likely face a more difficult uphill climb in overcoming privacy concerns and getting consumers comfortable with the idea of an always-on camera in their house. Many people are already convinced that Facebook secretly listens to them via their smartphone microphone.
Adding an always on camera that could possibly actively scan for peoples faces and matches them to their facebook accounts via facial recognition brings up all kinds of privacy questions. What data will the always on camera be recording and where is it sending it? Will you effectively have a CCTV camera feeding constant data of your habits to advertisers? Can it only recognise faces or will it be capable of recognising what brands of snacks you are eating? will it log your viewing habits? Even if you weren’t bothered about your privacy what about the privacy of visitors? If you have agreed to the terms and conditions can they opt out?
The more technology progresses the quicker we advance towards fully connected homes. We got evidence of the blistering speed that technology is progressing at with our article on the Facebook AI story yesterday. And whilst this could be extremely useful and in some cases, life changing we have to ask at what cost? Is there a cost at all? Only a few short years ago people would have been adverse to having a GPS tracking device on them at all times. Yet now most of the world has smartphones and routinely think nothing of allowing an app to access their device’s location.
Where do you stand on data privacy? Would you happily have an always on camera in your home? As always let us know your thoughts in the comments below