Facebook’s new home gadget might have a creepy camera as its main feature


Jared Newman | Fast Company | Source URL

After calling off the launch of a smart display device earlier this year, Facebook is reportedly planning to announce it next week. Here are the details from Cheddar's Alex Heath, who cites unnamed sources:

  • The main feature will be video chat, and Facebook will use facial recognition to tag users and follow them around the room. (Amazon's Echo Show and Google-powered smart displays don't identify users' faces, though some security cameras do.)
  • The device will have a privacy shutter to disable the camera tracking, but amazingly, Facebook may have only thought to include this in response to its own recent privacy scandals.
  • While the device was once rumored to rely a homegrown voice assistant to handle basic commands, Portal may instead lean on Amazon's Alexa for things like music, recipes, and news briefings.
  • Portal could come in small and large sizes for $300 and $400, respectively.

We reached out to Facebook for comment and will update if we hear back.

Recent polls have shown that a majority of Americans don't trust Facebook to protect their personal information. For the most part, this doesn't appear to have stopped people from using the social network, but buying a Facebook-powered, always-on video camera is a much bigger ask than habitually opening an app. We'll see how the company pitches it to the public soon enough.

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