The video chat device priced $499 is expected to launch later this year, probably at the F8 Developer conference with an expected shipping date in the second half of 2018.
The report says that Portal is a work of Facebook’s Building 8, which is known for their top-secret projects, including brain-computer interfaces. This also strengthens the earlier claims of a rumored Facebook hardware in the making.
Portal is seen as a direct competitor to Amazon’s Alexa-enabled Echo Show, which also features a display and camera to add video calling capabilities.
It’s not surprising to see Facebook developing such a device when the companies including Google and Amazon are trying to put their digital assistants everywhere they can. But wait, where is Facebook’s assistant M? They killed it off yesterday.
So, another question is what will power Portal? Maybe, Facebook could go the other way round and simply put Portal as a video chat device for people’s home, rather than stuffing a smart assistant in it. Still, there would be support for voice commands and facial recognition to recognize people through a wide-angle lens camera and link them to their Facebook account.
Other than video chat, users could also access other services like Spotify and Netflix. Cheddar says Facebook has signed music deals with Sony and Universal Music Group. However, if Netflix is in the picture, Portal’s display size should have to be considerably larger than that of Echo Show.
A possible downside for Facebook Portal could it be its price, which is almost double of Echo Show. But according to the report, the costs could go down. It mentions Mark Zuckerberg telling the employees that the goal of the device is not to make profits but to change user behavior and to make people use it often like they use their phones. Well, doing the same might not seem like a big deal as the company knows a lot about how to exploit the human brain.