Facebook has announced that it is working on new versions of its Portal video conferencing devices. Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, VP of AR/VR, said Facebook will unveil new devices this fall. The social media giant began shipping two versions of Portal, its video chatting devices, in November. Facebook debuted Portal as its alternative to smart speakers like Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices. Bosworth announced plans to introduce new Portal devices at Code Conference.
“We have a lot more that we’re going to unveil later this fall, new form factors that we’re going to be shipping,” Bosworth confirmed at the Code Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Bosworth did not answer the number of Portal devices shipped by the company so far. Portal came at a time when the company was being scrutinized for its privacy practice in the industry. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a privacy focused vision for his company. He highlighted that the company will focus on more private conversations via devices like Portal.
“The reason we’re doing this is because we think there’s a whole new generation of hardware coming out,” Bosworth said. “Hardware is coming to the home, and we want to make sure that human connection, connection between two people, is a first-party experience on that hardware.”
While Zuckerberg is pitching Portal as part of its private future, Bosworth played down the use of microphones and camera on the device. When Portal launched, a number of Twitter users complained that they will never let Facebook enter their homes. “It has a camera and a microphone and it is recording,” Bosworth acknowledged at the conference. Facebook Portal currently uses the camera and microphone for video calls. Bosworth said that the company has not allowed recording live video on Portal.
Bosworth further added that calls made using Portal are encrypted and the company left a lot of features on the table. He says that smart speakers are not social and Portal addresses the need for a smart social device. Bosworth also confirmed that Oculus Quest has resulted in $5 million of content sales within two weeks. He believes Quest is the hardware that Facebook needs to build a VR/AR ecosystem.