Since 2004, Facebook has claimed that it wants people on earth to be closer to each other. To achieve this goal, the company relied for the most part on applications for the web and smartphones. But software alone is not enough. On Monday, Facebook introduced a pair of video call devices – Portal and Portal Plus – to expand its influence in the living room people. Portal and Portal Plus with 12-megapixel cameras and artificial intelligence can be used for video chats.
The camera, which uses AI algorithms, monitors the user’s movements, allowing him to communicate without constraint. The devices also include Alexa from Amazon, who can check the weather or pick up the music.
Is the future here?
The 10-inch Portal will sell for $ 199, and another model with a 15-inch swivel display for $ 349. Facebook plans to offer devices on a separate site, and will also launch a vigorous marketing campaign.
These devices are Facebook’s first serious attempt to break into the design, creation and sale of user equipment from scratch. If Portals is successful, the company will be able to get more people to use its social network on an ongoing basis so that they can communicate with friends and family, as well as applications like Spotify and Pandora.
And yet, worse than the moment Facebook could not choose. After two years of scandals, she will advertise a skeptical public to Portal and Portal Plus. Last year, the company talked about a security breach, as a result of which at least 50 million user accounts were compromised, and along with them, along with numerous third-party applications.
To address the privacy concerns of Portal and Portal Plus, Facebook said that the products include an electronic switch for the front camera, as well as lens coating. In addition, video calls are encrypted, and the artificial intelligence of the camera works on the device itself, and not on Facebook servers.
The company said that the usefulness of devices operating on a home Wi-Fi connection will convince people of the importance of their presence in the house. The devices are built on the Facebook Messenger platform, and communication software is linked to the network of Facebook users. As soon as Portal connects to your Messenger account, people can call up video chatting with anyone, be it Portal, tablet, smartphone, or computer.
“It’s all about bringing people together,” says Dave Kaufman, a product marketing leader.
Facebook is entering a highly competitive market. Voice-guided smart speakers, which are embodied in a separate category, thanks to Amazon’s Echo, introduced in 2015, is still a small market, but growing. In the past quarter, manufacturers shipped 16.8 million smart speakers (this is 187% more than in the same period last year). Amazon and Google dominate the US smart speaker market. In China, Alibaba and Xiaomi are rapidly gaining momentum.
Over the past two years, smart speakers have evolved and started to include screens for video conferencing, video and applications. Last year, Amazon introduced Echo Show, its first Echo with display, and Lenovo teamed up with Google this year to create a smart screen based on Google Assistant. Google should also introduce its own smart screen this year.
Instead of creating their own virtual assistant three years after Alexa’s debut, Facebook merged with Amazon. Like other Amazon-based products, the Portal can be managed by the word ‘Alexa’.
Previously, Facebook has already been engaged in hardware, but in the case of Portal, everything goes deeper and deeper. In 2013, the company worked with HTC on HTC First, Facebook-based smartphones. It turned out zilch.
The company also sells virtual reality glasses created with Oculus. Oculus was acquired by Facebook in 2014.
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