Your home’s third screen
A few years ago there was much talk about ‘second screens’ – the idea that you’d use your phone to augment what you were watching on TV. 'Second screening’ never turned out quite like the predictions imagined, but now the battle is on for the third screen.
It started with the Amazon Echo Show, a quirky little experiment with putting a screen and camera on a device that was very recently a quirky little experiment itself, the Echo. While many reviews noted that having a device with an internet-connected camera on it in your kitchen or bedroom was probably a bad idea, the Echo Show was clearly enough of a success for Amazon to launch a new version
Meanwhile, Google has been promoting the idea of Assistant in a screen, through devices like the Lenovo Smart Display
and the Google Home Hub
(expected to be officially announced at the company’s event later today).
And now Facebook’s Portal
has entered the fray. Unlike the others, its smart assistant features take a backseat to slick video calling functionality.
Essentially, these screens all do many of the same things, with different strengths and weaknesses. But even if I set aside the privacy worries they present, I’m still not sold. I spend enough time looking at screens, between my phone, my laptop and my tablet. Oh, and the TV. And the smart energy meter in my kitchen.
The appeal of a smart speaker is taking that bright, intrusive screen out of the equation. It’s a convenient device to use as you get on with other things.
No matter how well smart display devices sell this holiday season, I do wonder whether our eyes would appreciate a break from ever more screens demanding our attention.