Facebook Portal smart screen to launch amid concerns over privacy

09 Octubre, 2018, 01:12 | Author: Misty Newman
  • Facebook could put a camera in your home with video calling Portal device

Although the social media giant acquired virtual reality headset manufacturer Oculus in 2014, this is the first time it has developed a consumer hardware product in-house.

The cameras and microphones on Facebook's Portal smart home devices automatically track the subject as they move around and minimise background noise when applicable.

All of the video chatting features you would find on Facebook are there, including group chat with multiple people, stickers, and effects.

"We know that privacy and security are important when you bring new technology into your home".

The Portal is the closest in style to the Echo Show, with a 10.1-inch 720p screen. As an example, if you have a Portal set up in your kitchen and are chatting with someone while you make dinner, the camera will follow you around the room as best it can so you are always viewable by whomever you're chatting with.

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A four mic array picks up voices for voice recognition and calling, while the stereo speakers included are capable of 10W total output.

Portal and Portal+ have two AI-based features: Smart Camera and Smart Sound.

Both Portals come with dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity.

Facebook's Portal devices are available for pre-order now, with the 10.1-inch variant going for $199, and the 15.6-inch variant going for $349.

The mics go hand in hand with what Facebook calls its Smart Sound technology that's embedded into both Portal devices. Facebook claims that they don't record the contents of your calls, and just like any other smart speaker, it only actually listens to you when you say "Hey Portal", to trigger Facebook features, or "Alexa", for smarthome and other features. Made as a smart-speaker with a strong focus on video chatting, the Portal lets you play music through popular streaming services, and chat with friends using Facebook's Messenger. The bigger Portal+ sports a huge 15.6-inch Full HD display, which you can also rotate between portrait and landscape. The Portal's smart camera detects a users face and frames them within the shot throughout the video call. (Amazon keeps audio recordings of requests you make to Alexa through the Portal; Facebook does not.) There are no ads on the Portal - at least for now. According to its announcement, all calls are encrypted, each device comes with a camera cover for added privacy when you want it, both the microphone and camera can be disabled with a single button, and the AI features (not including certain Alexa functions, we assume) run on the devices, not on Facebook's servers. If you preorder, though, you can save $100 when buying two Portal devices at once. But Facebook has crafted its Portal gadgets, launched this week, to be as un-creepy as possible. Two different models were announced today, the Portal and the larger Portal+.

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