Facebook could put a camera in your home with video calling Portal device
09 October, 2018, 05:12
The new video call devices are powered by AI, with Facebook's "Smart Camera" technology created to follow you as you move around the room and zoom in to the action, meaning you can continue chatting over video while doing chores, cooking in the kitchen, or looking for something in your room.
Facebook representatives prefer to talk about their "mission" rather than business models and profits, but it is clear that wireless speakers and video calls represent a growing market.
Called Portal, the tablet-like device with a 10-inch screen allows users to make video calls with their voice over Facebook's Messenger app.
The Portal is primarily a device for making video calls with your friends on Facebook and Messenger. The smaller one looks like a complete rival of the Echo Show, featuring a similar design with a 10-inch screen in the middle, a camera at the top, and a speaker unit at the base. Meanwhile, the larger Portal+ boasts a 15.6-inch Full HD display, and it's coupled with 20W speakers and a four-inch bass woofer.
"This is going to gain (Facebook) not only a place in the smart home, but also data they may not have been able to collect before or understand before", said ABI Research analyst Jonathan Collins. Both devices also feature a button that turns their cameras physically off.
Facebook on Monday launched a range of AI-powered video-calling devices, a strategic revolution for the social network giant in its bid for a slice of a market now dominated by Amazon and Google.
First going on sale in the U.S. in November, Portal will come with a 10in display for video calls, or a 15in display on the Portal+. Its primary objective is to make video calls - the thing any smartphone, tablet, or computer can do - but Amazon Alexa is built-in so it can be your assistant, too.
Facebook is marketing the device, called Portal, as a way for its more than 2 billion users to chat with one another without having to fuss with positioning and other controls.
Facebook is hoping Portal and Portal Plus will be on people's holiday gift-giving lists.
But the launch of a product putting a camera into homes is likely to raise privacy issues for the social media giant, which has suffered several data breaches this year involving tens of millions of user accounts.
Facebook Portal and Portal+ will be available in November for $199 and $349, respectively. People can delete their Portal voice history in their Facebook Activity Log at any time.
Alexa will let users of Portal use voice commands for music on Spotify or asking questions.
Another feature is Smart Camera, which uses artificial intelligence and the devices' cameras to perfectly frame users on video as they move around while on a call.
Although Facebook acquired virtual reality headset manufacturer Oculus in 2014, this is the first time it has developed a consumer hardware product in-house. "Portal's camera doesn't use facial recognition and doesn't identify who you are", it adds.
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