EXCLUSIVE: Facebook Dives into Home Device Market with Video Chat Product Named "Portal"

Cheddar | 1/9/2018 | Staff
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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.

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.

Facebook - Product - Introduction - May - Developer

Facebook plans a formal product introduction in early May at its annual developer conference and hopes to ship the device in the second half of 2018.

Like Amazon’s screen-equipped Echo Show, Facebook’s Portal is designed to work indoors and be controlled through voice commands. According to people familiar with Facebook’s plans, Portal will be equipped with a wide-angle lens that is capable of recognizing individual faces and associating them with their Facebook accounts.

World - Network - Recognition - Years - Users

The world’s largest social network has been using facial recognition for years and recently started notifying users if their faces appear in photos they aren’t tagged in.

Facebook also intends to let Portal access outside streaming services like Spotify and Netflix. The company recently signed sweeping music licensing deals with Sony/ATV and Universal Music Group.

Facebook - Spokesperson - Story

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

Portal will be the...
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