Facebook Portal (2018)
Facebook Portal and Portal+ are a new kind of Smart Display for the home focused on creating “video presence” - letting people hang out with each other from a distance. The AI-driven 4k camera follows the action, while the rotating hi-res display reproduces every expression and skin tone, so you “feel there”. Portal lets you hang out with others while you cook, play guitar, do homework, listen to music, or just talk.
One of the biggest challenges was to avoid making people motion sick. We worked with Hollywood cinematographers to learn how to follow one or many people with slow moving pans and zooms, and to frame them in the most natural way (I learned what a “cowboy cut” was).
The Storytelling feature is particularly compelling, allowing grandparents not just to read bedtime stories to their grandkids, but to BE the story, donning AR masks of the characters, and voicing the parts using an onscreen teleprompter. I believe that Portal will usher in a new area of lifelike human connectivity.
Role: Design Director responsible for all experiences and for helping drive the roadmap for future Home products from Facebook. Built and managed a 30+ person design team.
Status: Launched November 2018, Portal outsold forecasts, and did particularly well for Mother’s Day in 2019, despite this holiday not typically being a successful one for tech. Guess people want to call their moms :-)