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Facebook Portal Smart Displays Come With Alexa, AI Cameras

10 October, 2018, 10:23 | Author: Vicki Mclaughlin
  • Facebook wants people to invite its cameras into their homes

Facebook's new Portal communications device.

The smaller Portal packs a 10-inch display with 1280 x 800 resolution, while the Plus gets you a 15-inch screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution.

That means the Portal is in essence a smart display with less features than what you'd get from competing Alexa or Google Assistant-powered devices, that tries to make up for that gap with better face chat features.

Facebook has just announced that its long-awaited video chat devices Portal and Portal+ are now available to preorder in the U.S., with shipping due to commence in November. You can start a video call simply by saying "Hey Portal" and noting who you'd like to call. One of the top features of the Portal and Portal+ is their smart camera - or may be some will find it creepy - that will follow people around in a room while they are on a video call. The Facebook Portal costs $199 and the Portal+ retails for $349.

The camera can be blocked by a cover and the device has a button for disabling both the lens and the microphone.

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.

Portal will not display Facebook ads "at this time", the company said, although it noted that third-party services such as music streaming might embed their own ads the same way they do on other devices. Facebook will even give you a cover for the camera.

Facebook's advantage over other video-chat services: Chances are, nearly everyone you might want to call already has an account.

Facebook Portal+. The larger device can also pivot. You'll be able to access Augmented Reality effects on your video calls, just like on Messenger.

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Facebook servers receive the voice commands you issue after the "Hey Portal" hotword, but you can delete your voice history from the Facebook Activity Log.

Facebook servers are only contacted when you say "Hey Portal".

Facebook's release of Portal comes at a time when the social network is under intense scrutiny around the world.

The only video calling platform the device supports is Messenger, naturally. The device features a camera that uses artificial intelligence to automatically zoom as people move around during calls.

Since Echo's release almost four years ago, both Google and Apple have followed Amazon in releasing smart speakers designed for use with their other digital services - some of them, at least.

However, the second version of Portal - called Portal Plus - is a whole different beast.

The company's Portal smart display is a 10.1-inch 720p device with a 12MP front camera. The company is still dealing with the fallout of Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a British firm harvested Facebook user data to aid the Trump U.S. presidential campaign. In addition, video calls on Portal are encrypted, so your calls are always secure, ' the company said in the blog post announcing the device. Select content partners like Spotify ($SPOT), Pandora ($P), Food Network, and Newsy are integrated into the devices at launch, with plans to add more services over time.

The social networking giant is also making it clear that it "doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls".

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