Facebook has a big plan for your home—an intrusive video chat box
Facebook is reportedly working on a video chat device for your homes. According to Cheddar and also reported on NASDAQ, the new device called Portal, is a video-chat box that will sit in your home and scan and recognize the face of anyone who passes by. The device will also be used to call and chat with other Facebook users and stream content from services like Netflix and Spotify.
The device will also put Facebook in direct competition with Amazon’s hugely popular line of Echo voice-controlled devices, Cheddar has learned. “The device is designed to work in the home and represents Facebook’s first serious foray into selling consumer hardware, people familiar with the matter said. Rather than position the device as a smart assistant akin to Amazon’s Echo speakers, Facebook intends to pitch Portal as a way for families and friends to stay connected through video chatting and other social features,” said Cheddar’s Alex Heath. The device will be similar in design to the Echo Show that Amazon introduced last year, and the array of smart displays Google announced last night, including the Lenovo Smart Display. Which means a speaker, display, and camera that you interact with via your voice.
Last summer, Facebook appointed Veteran Facebook ad exec Andrew Bosworth to lead all of the company’s hardware efforts, including its separate Oculus virtual reality business. “With Building 8, Facebook hopes to eventually sell a suite of consumer products that can compete with offerings from the likes of Amazon, Google, and Apple. Facebook employees have internally referred to the video chat device with the codename “Aloha” but recently settled on the name Portal — an indication that product development has progressed even as there’s been turnover in Building 8’s upper ranks,” Alex said.
According to the report, Facebook plans to sell Portal at $499. Cheddar also learned that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is not motivated by profit and therefore does not care if the device generates profit but rather wants it to change user behavior and encourage phone-like usage among owners.
The popular gadget site, Gizmodo, reached out to Facebook. Facebook told Gizmodo in a statement, “We are not commenting on this speculative story.”