Facebook wants people to invite its cameras into their homes

Facebook wants people to invite its cameras into their homes

Facebook wants people to invite its cameras into their homes

Facebook released a smart speaker created to ease video calls, known as Portal.

The company worked with a U.S. film director in order to make the camera movements feel natural, said Nick Fell, marketing director for Facebook´s Portal team.

Facebook Inc on Monday released a smart speaker created to ease video calls, but the company's history of privacy mishaps and the device's price and limited functionality could slow it from taking on market leaders Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google.

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

Users can make voice calls to anyone in the world or chat with family and friends on an HD video call.

Facebook's Portal looks like it will be great for video chats with other friends on Facebook, but will that be enough?

You can completely disable the camera and microphone with a single tap. 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". Facebook is also providing users with the option to set a 4 to 12-digit passcode for Portal before anyone can use it. 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. In a statement that highlights that Facebook knows it has work to do to gain the trust of consumers, the company said that the kill switch physically cuts the circuit to this camera and mic, rather than just turning them off, in order to prevent hacking attempts.

Both models also include an internet-connected speaker that features Amazon's voice-activated digital assistant, Alexa. Facebook also says that cameras in the Portal and Portal+ come with a cover that should give an assurance to people that Facebook is not watching their moves.

Facebook's advantage over other video-chat services: Chances are, nearly everyone you might want to call already has an account. Portal and Portal+ are 10- and 15-inch smart displays complete with integrated cameras and packed with AI.

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.

Both Portals use AI technology to make video chatting better. By shipping the Portal with Alexa, Facebook might be proactively avoiding a controversy about data collection. While some might find that creepy, Facebook says the goal is to show people they don't have to be stuck in front of the screen to communicate.

The social media giant claims that it won't "listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal calls", and that all calls are encrypted for heightened security.

Two versions of the video calling device have been announced, Portal and Portal Plus.

The mics go hand in hand with what Facebook calls its Smart Sound technology that's embedded into both Portal devices.

Facebook has just entered the smart speaker business and it's already partnered with three music services: Pandora, Spotify and iHeartRadio.

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