Facebook Enters The Smart Speaker Space With New Devices

Judy Cobb
October 13, 2018

The 10-inch 1280 x 800 display model is priced at $199 (USD), while the larger 15-inch 1920 x 1080 Portal+ is priced at $349. But there are questions surrounding one's privacy using the portal device.

Portal's camera, which uses artificial intelligence to recognise body shapes, is a major marketing point, offering users the convenience of staying in the frame without having to adjust the device. The Portal and Portal+ camera automatically follows and reframes you during a video chat.

"Our goal is to make you feel present in the same space as the person on the other end", said Rafa Camargo, the Facebook vice president overseeing Portal. It also reportedly minimizes background noise to enhance your voice.

Portal and Portal+ are created to make video calling easier and more like hanging out, while the widescreen display lets people share every moment together. Facebook has done this to give an assurance to its users that it is not watching their moves.

"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. Access to Portal can be restricted by locking the screen using a passcode which can be ranging between four to twelve characters in length. In addition, video calls on Portal are encrypted, so your calls are always secure. Contrast that with Amazon.com Inc., which last month announced a dizzying number of new gadgets powered by the company's Alexa voice-activated software. You can disable both the camera as well the microphone with a single tap, when not needed.

"Facebook Portal is an interesting move in that it exclusively focuses on being a communication tool - essentially a video phone - and isn't linked to Facebook or Instagram accounts", Stead said.

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Not only does Portal have Amazon's Alexa built in for voice control, but it also uses AI to power the device's Smart Camera and Smart Sound abilities.

On Tuesday Google also unveiled a smart device called Home Hub, which features an app that functions like a universal remote, connecting all devices to the cloud.

"Calls can be made to and from Messenger-enabled smartphones and tablets". "Portal supports group calls of up to seven people at the same time", said the social media platform. The product, dubbed as Portal, can be used to call other Portal users as well as anyone who is connected via Facebook or Facebook Messenger. A handful of animated e-books will also be included for interactive story time. More on, Story Time brings stories to life with custom sound effects and visuals.

Facebook's Portal and Portal+ will be rolling out in the United States from Facebook, Amazon, and Best Buy, and will begin shipping in November.

The Portal and Portal+ go for, United States dollars 199 and 349, respectively.

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