Facebook Portal and Portal

Laverne Mann
October 9, 2018

Facebook says it and your friends can't look into your house anytime they want: Video chats have to be explicitly accepted before the camera cuts on.

Facebook Portal+. The larger device can also pivot.

But what's really interesting about the Portal is that Facebook doesn't have its own voice assistant ready for heavy lifting. Facebook says that the smart cameras, although they lack facial recognition feature for now, will be able to follow users while video calls while they are "cooking in the kitchen or chasing the kids around the living room". If the video call has multiple people in the frame, the camera shifts to a wide-angle mode, keeping everyone in its bounding box. All AI features like Smart Camera and Smart Sound run locally and no data is sent to Facebook's servers whatsoever. The company has revealed details about its Amazon Echo competitor, a voice-controlled, webcam-equipped smart screen named Portal.

"The first thing consumers are going to wonder is 'how much sensitive data is this collecting about me?'" said John Breyault, vice president of public policy of telecommunications and fraud at the National Consumers League, a Washington-based consumer advocacy group that has received donations from Facebook and other tech companies.

Facebook has announced Portal, a series of devices that let you do voice or video calls to other Facebook and Messenger users. The camera is created to crop into you and even track your movement as you move about and can detect when there are multiple people in the room and frame accordingly. All of this is pretty basic for a smart display, and devices like Amazon's Echo Show have been offering similar features for ages. Call out, "Portal, call Geoffrey", and it'll ring my home Portal or the Facebook Messenger app on my phone. Hoping to quell concerns, the company included a mic/camera disable button on both Portal devices, as well as a physical camera cover. You can't browse Facebook or Instagram on it, or even visit the web (you also can't watch video content on it via Youtube).

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A smart speaker device by Facebook Inc. called Portal is shown in this photo released by Facebook Inc. from Menlo Park, California, U.S., October 5, 2018.

Portal also supports music and video services, such as Facebook Watch, Food Network, Spotify, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Newsy and more are said to be on the way.

Facebook is finally getting in the consumer hardware-making game, putting not one but two Portal devices up for pre-order after reportedly pausing development for a few months to restore customer confidence. Additionally, you can also receive $100 off any two devices, meaning a bundle of two Portal devices will be priced at $298.

The Portal is available for preorder online and will arrive in stores in November.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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