Facebook Portal Smart Displays Come With Alexa, AI Cameras

Facebook Portal Smart Displays Come With Alexa, AI Cameras

As you might expect, its main goal is to connect you with other Facebook users via Messenger; say "Hey Portal" to start a video call.

Facebook says that the device can't record video tracking function is only needed for proper construction of the frame, and processes the voice requests the device itself, not the servers of the social network. Shipping starts from 12 November.

Portal is meant to connect households in a life-like way according to Facebook, which said that both devices were "designed to help you feel closer to the important people in your life and make video chats feel less like a call, and more like you're actually in the same room".

The first is the Portal proper, which features 10-inch screen with a 1280 x 800-pixel display resolution, which is alike to a 10.5-inch iPad Pro. It only sends voice commands to the servers after hearing, "Hey Portal". "And, when played, music will be magically synced across your Portal devices". Reality effects like adding masks while chatting are also deemed necessary to improve the experience of the video call.

On Tuesday, Google introduced Google Home Hub, an update to its popular Google Home speaker, a new device with a video screen that's all about Google.

Nice tag lines aside, the camera has some smarts in it that allow it to follow your movement and keep everyone in view. In a blog post, Facebook touted the Portal devices as being created with privacy and security in mind: calls are encrypted, there's no facial recognition, users can disable the camera and microphone are among the privacy measures Facebook listed.

"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.

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Security is a sensitive issue for Facebook, which had 50 million of its user accounts breached by hackers last month.

The Portal also shares quite some similarity with the Echo Show, or for that matter, any speaker with an integrated display. You can also listen to music long distance with friends with (as they claim) zero lag, which is ... a feature, I guess.

Facebook has moved to quickly allay security fears, saying that by keeping the processes on the actual device rather than in the cloud, the risk of hacking is lower than with a smartphone or computer. "We have worked hard to ensure the AI is on the device and we think this is a breakthrough for the industry".

There were 17 billion video calls on Messenger a year ago, double the number in 2016. You have to sacrifice one of your arms. There's no speck of Instagram or Whatsapp in the platform and one can not connect via normal Facebook messages.

Portal and Portal+ are available now for pre-order in the USA from Facebook, Amazon and Best Buy.

The new Show, in stores Thursday, has a larger 10-inch screen (over the original 7 inch) but a steeper price, initially, than competitors, at $229.

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