Facebook Portal video chat device with display, Alexa support to launch next week: Report
Facebook’s ‘Portal’ video chat device could launch as early as next week, according to a report by Cheddar. The smart speaker will have a display and will reportedly come in two variants. Powered by Amazon Alexa, Facebook Portal will have features similar to Amazon Echo Show. The report, which quotes people familiar with the matter, notes that the social media giant’s plans to unveil Portal at its F8 developer conference in May were delayed due to Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.
Facebook Portal with the larger screen will cost around $400, which is around Rs 28,800 on conversion. The smaller screen variant will be priced at $300 or Rs 21,600 approximately, as per the report. In addition to a display, Facebook Portal will also sport wide-angle video camera that will take advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to “recognise people in the frame and follow them as they move throughout a room”.
Facebook Portal’s wide-angle video camera will also have a “privacy shutter”, a feature that was reportedly added recently in the wake of new privacy concerns. Amazon Alexa voice assistant on Portal will let users get weather updates, watch videos, play music, and see recipes. Portal has already been shown to major retailers in the US. As per the report, the smart speaker is being tested by Facebook employees at their homes for months.
Earlier this year, Taiwan’s DigiTimes reported that Facebook aims to position the smart speaker as the device to allow family and friends to keep in touch through video chat and other social features. The report further says the devices will feature touchscreens built by LG Display, while Taiwan’s Pegatron has been assigned the duty to manufacture the smart speakers.
Aloha is reportedly the code-name of Facebook’s Portal, that was rumoured to launch at CES 2018. The 15-inch Facebook Portal is double the size of Amazon Echo Show, which sports a 7-inch display. The second variant is codenamed Fiona. The smart speakers are expected to be the first devices to be coming from Facebook’s Building 8, a secretive division working on upcoming hardware products.