There are reports that Facebook, the social media behemoth, is set to announce its own smart home device next week, called Portal. Portal is rumoured to work and look much like the recently-updated Echo Show.
The device is rumoured to come in two screen sizes, according to people familiar the matter who requested anonymity to discuss unannounced plans. Although no specs were provided, the bigger screen device could be priced around $400 while the smaller screen device could go for around $300.
These devices were originally supposed to be announced at the tech company’s F8 conference earlier this year in May, however, due to intense public scrutiny following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, along with the bombshell revelation that Russia used the platform to interfere with the 2016 elections, company executives decided to shelve the announcement at the last minute.
With concerns over the diminishing public trust in Facebook, the company reportedly included a privacy shutter in front of Portal’s wide-angle video camera.
Portal will basically use Facebook’s AI platform to recognise people in the frame and follow people as they move around the room (which isn’t creepy at all) and will also have Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant integration. It will also let users play music, watch videos, get cooking recipes, and receive news briefings.
According to the people familiar with devices, Portal has come from Facebook’s Building 8, a secretive R&D centre for hardware projects, and it is intended to get people to use video chat on its platform.
It will remain to be seen if both Portal devices will make their way down to us here in Australia and we will be keeping an eye out for any news about the launch, the devices and prices next week sometime.