Facebook is making a home video chat device, featuring a 15-inch screen and a range of microphones. The information has been revealed by financial news site Cheddar citing anonymous sources. The device, called “Portal”, will feature a wide-angle camera that can recognise individual faces.
Similar to Amazon Echo Show, the Portal will use voice commands, but will also include facial recognition to identify friends associated with user’s Facebook account. The Portal is also expected to come with a slew of third-party apps, including Netflix and Spotify. Unfortunately, Facebook Portal will likely to cost $499 (or approx Rs 31,735) – significantly higher than the $299 (or approx Rs 14,627) Amazon Echo Show – a similar product with a touchscreen display, a camera and microphones. The latter smart speaker takes advantage of Alexa voice commands to display relevant content like weather updates and videos on a 7-inch touchscreen display.
The Portal is said to announce in early May this year at the annual developer conference, with sales expected to begin in the second half of 2018. The Portal will be the social networking giant’s first step into the hardware business. It is being built by Facebook’s secretive Building 8 lab.
The market for voice-activated speakers and smart displays is gaining momentum. The e-commerce giant Amazon clearly dominates the segment with its Echo range of devices, followed by Google which currently offers three versions of the Home speakers: the Home, the Home Mini, and the Home Max. But Google isn’t restricted to the Home speakers, the company recently announced a pair of “smart displays” powered by the Assistant. These “smart displays” will be built by several partners including Lenovo, Sony, and LG. In fact, Lenovo has already announced the first “smart display” with Google Assistant at CES 2018. Then there is Apple, which is likely to start shipping Siri-powered HomePod speakers later this month at a price of $349 (or approx Rs 21,195).