Facebook will soon be showcasing its first consumer hardware video chat device named “Portal,” which is similar to Amazon’s digital assistant Echo and Google’s Assistant. This home video chat device to be equipped with a 15-inch screen attached to a set of microphones. This new device is basically a new digital assistant designed for home purpose with voice controls.
Facebook promotes Portal as a way for families and friends to stay connected through video chatting and other social features. The company plans to unveil their product in early May at its annual developer conference and hopes to ship the device in the second half of 2018.
Portal might be equipped with a wide-angle lens that is capable of recognizing individual faces and associating them with their Facebook accounts. The world’s largest social network has been using facial recognition for years and recently started notifying users if their faces appear in photos they aren’t tagged in.
Facebook might also let Portal access streaming services like Spotify and Netflix. Portal will be the first product from Facebook’s secretive tech laboratory, Building 8. The secretive research team has reportedly worked on cameras, augmented and virtual reality, according to the leaks.
Facebook is currently planning to price Portal at $499. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has told employees that he doesn’t care if the device generates profit but rather wants it to change user behaviour and encourage phone-like usage among owners.
In October last year, Zuckerberg admitted: “If we’re going to get a billion people in virtual reality we have to focus on affordability and quality.”
Portal will be sold by the company through online portals, as well as through pop-up stores. Facebook’s Oculus VR division is separately planning to release a cheaper standalone headset called Oculus Go this year.