Facebook Announces Portal, a Home Video Chat Device Just Like Amazon Echo Show

Just when Amazon & Google were starting to dominate the voice assistant smart speakers game, Facebook has entered the ring. Facebook is working onto build a video chat device called Portal, which is all set to launch in the second quarter of 2018.

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Facebook Portal

Amazon, Google and Apple have already started to burgeon smart device market, and now Facebook wants to share too. Facebook is always late to the game, but always ends up giving the incumbents a run for their money, from texting apps to photo sharing to virtual reality.

Just when Amazon & Google were starting to dominate the voice assistant smart speakers game, Facebook has entered the ring. Facebook is working onto build a video chat device called Portal, which is all set to launch in the second quarter of 2018.

Facebook’s First Consumer Hardware

This is Facebook’s first foray into the consumer hardware, and the Portal is built to work both at the home and in the office. Like any other smart speakers, it is intended to be used indoors, the device can be controlled with voice commands.

But, the device will come equipped the a wide-angle lens which will scan faces, and will be capable of recognizing faces and syncing them up with their Facebook accounts automatically.

Last time Facebook tried to build some hardware was in 2013 with the HTC First, also famous as the Facebook Phone, which came with Facebook’s user interface, and turned out to be a major flop.

So, Is Facebook Portal a Smart Speaker With a Camera?

Yes, like other Smart Speakers from Google, Amazon and Apple, the home video chat device Portal just comes with an additional camera, just like Echo Show. But the camera can do a lot, starting from scanning and recording to recognizing them and syncing them with their FB accounts automatically.

Similar to other smart speakers, the Portal will be able to access the streaming services like Spotify, Amazon Prime and Netflix. Also very recently, Facebook has announced comprehensive licensing deals with both Sony/ATV and Universal Music Group. Now you know why they did that, and what are the long-term plans of the company.

Portal Can Recognize Whoever Passes By – Sounds Creepy?

The wide angle camera on the Portal will can capture the surrounding, and will sit and scan faces whoever passes by. Portal has a special facial recognition software, which will run a scan and will search for the scanned face on facebook. Creepy.

Though it is built for homes and offices, but it can be a serious threat to privacy, if the device is used in public.

The Hefty Price Tag

The video-chat device from Facebook is heftily priced at $499 (around Rs. 31,830). Whereas Amazon and Google are flooding the market with their cheap smart speakers, and soon to be followed by Apple and Samsung, Facebook’s Portal seems to be a gamble

The steep price could drop to spur adoption, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg has told, that he cares less about the profits and his goal is to change the user behavior towards the technology of future.

Amazon Echo Show vs. Facebook Portal

Amazon Echo Show was revealed last year, and similarly Portal features a screen that which be used to take video calls, stream music and videos. So, on the out, more or less, both the devices will be same, except for the price.

Amazon has an existing ecosystem of their own, which includes the Amazon Prime Video and Music, which will come integrated with the device, but Facebook will have rely to on services like Spotify and Netflix, and their recent partnerships with Sony/ATV and Universal Music Group.

Portal is going be the first product from Facebook’s secretive consumer hardware lab, Building 8!

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