Voice has become a primary interface in many of the technologies we use on a daily basis, like our smart home appliances, cars and mobile apps. We can order takeout, listen to our favorite songs, or turn off the lights. Thanks to a trove of smart speakers such as Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Alexa. The convenience of smart speakers is boundless. On the premise of convenience, we let these devices sit on our bedside tables so they can listen to our every word. Why should Facebook be left behind when everybody else is jumping the so-called “convenience” bandwagon, right?
Turns out, it’s not too far. According to a report, Facebook is planning to showcase its first home video chat service “Portal”. The device is basically a digital assistant with superior voice controls.
The device, previously under the codename Aloha, was first reported by a leading business magazine in August. Of course, Portal would be Facebook’s answer to Amazon Echo, and newly launched products from LG, Lenovo and Sony using Google Assistant.
Facebook Portal would enable friends and families to stay connected through video chatting and a slew of social features. It would be priced at $499 and will be unveiled at Facebook’s annual developer conference in May 2018.
The home speaker Portal might be equipped with a wide-angle lens. This will enable the smart home speaker to recognize individual faces and associate them with their Facebook accounts. Theoretically, Portal could pose a threat to privacy. For a long time now, Facebook.com has been using facial recognition and has only recently started notifying users if their faces appear in photos they aren’t tagged in.
Facebook Portal happens to be the first and foremost product from the flagship social network’s secretive tech laboratory, Building 8. According to leaks and surmising, Building 8 has been working on cameras, augmented reality and virtual reality.
Mark Zuckerberg has often emphasized on creating products with affordability and quality in mind. Facebook Portal will be available through online portals and pop-up stores.
Home Speaker Market
Until now, the smart home speaker segmented has been dominated by Amazon, with Google not left far behind. Google has 3 variants, Home, Home Mini and Home Max. It has also announced a display device within the product range. Everyone’s beloved Apple is also working on its HomePod and the device may be available soon. There are other companies like Samsung, LG and Lenovo launching their own versions of the smart home speaker. Facebook might be the only odd one out of this group of tech companies. This might as well be the evolution of the social network company its range of offerings, and the sort of ads we see on our profiles.
Facebook has vehemently denied listening to people’s conversation. According to tech podcast Reply All, Facebook is always listening in more unsettling ways than you desire.