Facebook’s Alexa-powered smart display is called Portal, and it’s enormous

Facebook's new Portal device

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

The new video call devices are powered by AI, with Facebook's "Smart Camera" technology created to follow you as you move around the room and zoom in to the action, meaning you can continue chatting over video while doing chores, cooking in the kitchen, or looking for something in your room.

And it also comes bundled with Amazon´s voice interface "Alexa", enabling users to shop or control household appliances. The Portal Plus, which features a 15.6-inch 1080p screen and two louder speakers with a subwoofer, costs $349.

They also share "Smart Camera" technology allowing users to move and talk freely as they're being followed around the room during a call.

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+ are 10- and 15-inch smart displays complete with integrated cameras and packed with AI.

Facebook is now accepting pre-orders for the new devices and will be shipping them next month. Both come in white or black. The Portal does have a few apps, including Facebook Watch for video, and Spotify and Pandora for music.

The company has been at the centre of several data privacy incidents this year, and also revealed details about the Portal's privacy settings in a bid to reassure potential customers.

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.

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"Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls".

The device, which will be available for pre-order in the United States from Monday, is created to allow users to make video calls at home without having to stand immediately in front of the screen or hold a phone at arm´s length.

Portal only sends voice commands to Facebook servers after a user says: "Hey Portal", just like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. There's also a physical camera cover to prevent recording.

You can call Facebook friends and connections on Messenger even if they don't have Portal. You can save $100 when buying two of them at the same time, and these will also be available at other retailers like Amazon and Best Buy.

Still, Amazon has shipped 1 million of its Echo speakers with displays over the last year, according to research firm Canalys, which expects 4 million such devices across brands to ship globally next year.

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".

Preorder your Portal today from the official website.

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