Yesterday, Facebook revealed its maiden consumer electronic devices, Portal and Portal+, built from scratch. Videos and photos published by Facebook friends can be displayed by them and AI-powered video calls using Facebook Messenger are also possible. Portal and Portal+ will be capable of speaking with stream music from Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio and Amazon’s Alexa.
Portal can add maximum of up to seven people to a group video chat on Facebook Messenger app on portal devices such as tablets and smartphones. Calls will also act as a framework for third-party partners and developers to integrate augmented reality (AR) affairs for adults and kids. Currently, stories can be read using AR during the Call.
10-inch Portal is priced at $199 and 15.6-inch Portal+ is priced at $349. Facebook opened pre-orders yesterday and Portal devices are likely to be in stores by early November.
Portal devices are filled with many Artificial Intelligence (AI) charged services such as Smart Sound for varying the call volume of callers and a Smart Camera that allows zooming in on a caller. During the video call, Spotlight Mode can also be turned on to follow a person using the camera.
Facebook, with Portal devices, intends on bring together people in a more natural way as compared to the video experiences on smartphones and laptops. The size of the Portal team was not unveiled by company’s spokesperson, but it now operates under the augmented reality/virtual reality department of Facebook. Portal was developed by the internal consumer hardware Facebook team, Building 8.
Head of Portal framework, Camargo said that Portal will continue developing hardware products by Facebook.
“I think the fundamental value that we want to bring is really that of depth of connection. It’s really making sure that in our platforms you’re getting the best way to feel emotionally connected and remain emotionally connected to the people you care the most about. It’s less the breadth of all your friends on Facebook and more those you really care about,” he said.
Portal will not be launched with any facial recognition technology, as it was previously said. Smart Sound and Smart Camera AI will be locally integrated on the device. Some may consider Facebook to be late to the smart speaker marketplace, but right now is the best time to compete with similar devices from Samsung, Apple, Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home.
Portal releases the biggest chat app user base ever with Facebook Messenger. According to stats in September 2017, for at least one time in a month, 1.3 billion users used Messenger. These stats are a major advantage for Facebook when compared to competitors such as Google Assistant and Alexa. Furthermore, Echo Show’s skype calls are releasing soon.
Facebook plans to also release the Portal App Store and Software Development Kit (SDK) to allow third-party developers and partners create AR experiences for adults and kids during the video call. Augmented Reality (AR) experiences that will also come at launch include “Three Little Pigs,” “Five Little Monkeys,” and “Trouble Bubble.”