Published: Tue, October 09, 2018
IT | By Darin Griffith

Facebook launches AI video-calling device Portal

Facebook launches AI video-calling device Portal

They said Portal is available at Amazon and Best Buy stores in addition to Facebook.com and starts shipping to USA customers in early November.

Calls will be encrypted, and the AI technology runs locally on Portal, not on Facebook servers, with it only sending voice commands to the servers after hearing, "Hey Portal". Its primary goal 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.

CNBC reports that shortly after Facebook's latest user data leak, the company wants consumers to install a Facebook-manufactured camera into their homes. Amazon's smart assistant will handle the more conventional commands, such as setting timers, adding items to a shopping list or checking the weather.

Facebook has revealed its new Portal and Portal+ smart speakers, with Alexa built-in. This marks Facebook's first physical product aside from the Oculus virtual reality headset which Facebook acquired in 2014. In addition, a number of Portal's features are opt-in, and there is no video recording feature.

Portal could help Facebook stop users from flocking to rival chat and video apps on other speakers and give it a new, wholly controlled environment to sell ads.

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In a possibly vain attempt to reassure users over the firm's record around user privacy, Facebook said the device comes with a camera lens cover and the ability to disable both the camera and the microphone with a single tap.

If you put it all together and just look at the features, it can easily compete with any other smart display on the market.

Considering the popularity of Facebook Messenger, a smart display focused on video calls makes sense. The cameras and the microphones in these two devices can be disabled with a switch.

The device can also stream music from Spotify, Pandora and Amazon Music and video from Facebook Watch.

The company's Portal smart display is a 10.1-inch 720p device with a 12MP front camera.

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Portal is similar to Amazon's Echo Show. Even as these two tech giants team up, though, Facebook has asserted ownership over the device by offering its own voice controls, as well.

The Portal+ is a larger device, with a 15.6-inch 1080p display that can be swiveled to a portrait position, as well as landscape.

Portal and Portal+ are available now for pre-order in the U.S. - from Facebook at portal.facebook.com, as well as Amazon and Best Buy - and will begin shipping in November.

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". Additionally, you can also receive $100 off any two devices, meaning a bundle of two Portal devices will be priced at $298.

Preorder your Portal today from the official website.

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