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Facebook working on the Portal, a home-based assistant with a surprising price

by Justin Herrick | January 9, 2018January 9, 2018 9:15 am EST

Soon we’ll get to witness Facebook enter the world of hardware as a home-based assistant in development, according to Cheddar. The company is reportedly working on a product much like Amazon’s Echo Show and Google’s smart displays that lets you complete tasks using nothing but your voice.

Facebook doesn’t intend to position the device, apparently known as the Portal, like its competitors. The Portal will be pushed as a tool for communication between friends and family. Features like video chat and “other social features” are to be included. But it will work whether you use your voice or interact with the touch-enabled screen. The belief is that you’ll be able to simply call out a name from your friends list on Facebook and instantly be connected for digital face-to-face conversation.

Aside from having a wide-angle lens, the Portal should ship with facial recognition. Having that technology would enable multiple people in a home to use the device with an experience tailored for them. The Portal would see an individual and respond to their voice commands uniquely in a way similar to Google Assistant.

Additional partners are being brought in, including Spotify and Netflix. Facebook also has licensing deals in place with several record labels.

Pricing could decide whether or not the Portal will be a success after it debuts. Cheddar says Facebook is planning to sell the Portal for $499, a price dramatically higher than anything else in the category. There’s a possibility that Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care if the device isn’t profitable as he’s aiming to change user behavior, not make money.

The Portal will reportedly be sold online and through Facebook-owned pop-up shops.

Facebook, of course, would not respond to the report. It’s expected that the Portal will launch at the company’s annual F8 developer conference in May before being released in the second half of 2018, which means we’re still months away from seeing anything official.


Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...