- Facebook offered to pay people to record their voices as part its work to improve the voice recognition technology of its Portal smart display. The social network is asking people to record the phrase, "Hey Portal, call..." and the first name of as many as 10 of their Facebook friends twice, The Verge reported.
- The "Pronunciations" survey is available in Facebook Viewpoints, the social network's market research app that's available to download for free from the Apple's App Store and Google Play. The app pays people to complete surveys and tasks to help to improve products such as Portal, Oculus VR headsets and messaging app WhatsApp.
- Facebook Viewpoints will award 200 points each time a user completes the voice recording task, which is limited to five times. The maximum award of 1,000 points is equal to $5, which the company will pay through PayPal, the Verge reported.
Facebook's effort to improve its voice recognition technology likely will have a muted effect on mobile marketers in the short term, given that its voice-powered Portal displays have an insignificant market share among smart-home devices. The company doesn't announce sales figures for Portal devices, while estimates of shipments have ranged from 54,000 to as many as 300,000, according to press reports. By comparison, Amazon shipped 10.4 million of its Echo smart speakers in Q3 2019 alone has 37% of the market, ahead of Google at 30%, per market researcher Canalys.
However, improved voice recognition could eventually help Facebook better integrate the device in users' lives, opening more opportunities for ads and e-commerce, as Amazon has done by frequently improving the capabilities of Alexa.
Still, Facebook's history of lax consumer privacy controls has been cited as a reason that people don't want one of its listening devices in their homes, CNet reported. Privacy concerns also have dogged rival makers of smart-home devices, including Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft. All four of those companies revised their privacy policies as press reports revealed that their employees had listened to people's conversations as part of their efforts to improve their voice recognition technologies.
Facebook in October sought to expand adoption of Portal by adding videoconferencing services for business. The company announced that Workplace, the social network's platform for enterprise communication and collaboration, would work with Portal devices. The integration with Portal was part of Facebook's effort to take on market leaders such as Zoom, Cisco Webex and Microsoft's Skype, CNBC reported. Workplace previously had video chat features on smartphones and desktop computers.