Facebook set to release $499 video chat device this year

Mark ZuckerbergFacebook reportedly has plans to take a dive into the consumer hardware business with the release of a video chat device later this year.

The device named ‘Portal’ is not intended to be a smart assistant like Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Home speakers, but instead Facebook wants to sell the product as a way for families and friends to keep in touch via video chatting and other features the social network boasts, reports Cheddar.

Portal – which will be the first product to come out of Facebook’s Building 8 – has been designed to work similarly to Amazon’s Echo Show, in that it can be controlled using voice. It will also feature a wide-angle lens, which will incorporate the facial recognition technology Facebook uses to notify users about photos of them.

The tech giant also has plans to enable users to access outside streaming services like Spotify and Netflix through its device.

Facebook is looking to unveil the product at its annual developer conference in May before beginning to ship the device in the second half of 2018. At present, the price is set to be $499.

The news of Facebook’s plans comes just after Google announced it has teamed up with LG, Sony, Lenovo, and JBL to enter the ‘smart display’ market. These smart displays – arriving later this year – will be powered by Google’s Assistant and enable users to watch videos from YouTube, video call with Google Duo, find photos from Google Photos, and more.