Facebook’s long-rumoured plans to enter into the consumer hardware space (outside of Oculus) by launching a smart speaker called Portal may finally come to reality. A new report claims that the social media giant is set to unveil its first video chat device called Portal next week, and it is expected to cost at a maximum of $400 (roughly Rs. 28,800). Portal will reportedly come in two screen sizes and be powered by Amazon Alexa voice assistant. Facebook was reported to announce this device in mid-2018, but plans were pushed in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. With Portal, Facebook plans to compete with Amazon, Google, and Apple, in the smart speaker space.
A new report from Cheddar cites unnamed sources to claim that Facbeook is unveiling the Portal ‘video chat device’ as early as next week. It will have similar features like the Amazon Echo Show, sporting a display and a camera for video chatting purposes and facial recognition. The report states that Portal will come in two screen sizes, and while the large device will be priced around $400 (roughly Rs. 28,800), the smaller screen variant will retail for $300 (roughly Rs. 21,600).
In the wake of new privacy concerns, the report states that Portal will sport a “privacy shutter that can cover the device’s wide-angle video camera, which uses artificial intelligence to recognize people in the frame and follow them as they move throughout a room.” The shutter was recently developed after Facebook got embroiled in the Russia political controversy.
The new report states that Portal will be powered by Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to let users watch videos, play music, see recipes, and get weather and schedule information. Facebook has dabbled into hardware before with Oculus, a VR headset company it acquired in 2014. However, this is the first consumer hardware device, outside of the Oculus family, that Facebook plans to sell commercially. It will be interesting to see how Facebook will leverage its own service in the smart speaker space.