Facebook is about to jump into the consumer hardware business in a big way with a video chat device named "Portal", which will put it in direct competition with Amazon's hugely popular line of Echo voice-controlled devices, Cheddar has learned.
More info about the device states that it will work via voice command like Amazon's Echo, but it will house wide-angle lens that's capable of recognizing individual faces, and even linking your face to your Facebook account. "Facebook intends to pitch Portal as a way for families and friends to stay connected through video chatting and other social features", Cheddar reports.
Facebook's hardware device, whose existence under the codename Aloha was first reported by Business Insider in August, is Facebook's answer to the smart-speaker and smart-screen products such as the Amazon Echo Show and newly-announced products from Lenovo, Sony, and LG using Google Assistant.
"CEO Mark Zuckerberg has told employees that he doesn't care if the [Portal] device generates profit but rather wants it to change user behavior and encourage phone-like usage among owners", Cheddar reported. It will have some interesting features like Facial recognition.
Cheddar also notes services like Spotify and Netflix could also make their way to this device, although that remains unconfirmed. So essentially, this will be a first step in an evolution Facebook wishes to dictate. It was a major flop. The move begs the question as to whether Facebook's Portal will be able to match some of the capabilities of the Amazon or Google products, which rely on sophisticated virtual assistants to respond to user queries. Expectations for the home product are running high, and its performance will shape how many more physical products we might expect to see from Facebook in the future.
Facebook declined to comment.