Facebook launches Portal auto-zooming video chat screens

Facebook Introduces AR Enhanced Video Calling Devices

"Portal and Portal+ also come with a camera cover, so you can easily block your camera's lens at any time and still receive incoming calls and notifications, plus use voice commands". But really, the thing that caught my attention the most was images Facebook put out there promoting the devices.

How about you? Would you allow Facebook's new device into the privacy of your home? "Especially with the trust deficit, (marketers and consumers) shouldn't just accept what Facebook is telling them", she said.

Voice Control + Alexa: Portal offers hands-free voice control.

How do the Portals work? It will communicate with Messenger-enabled smartphones and tablets.

Both devices, the smaller Portal and the larger Portal+, use artificial intelligence to control the 140 degree camera, zooming in on a user's face or following them walking around the room as they talk. The screen can rotate 90 degrees for a more comprehensive view of the caller on the other end. This allows them to focus on an individual of their choosing, letting - for example - a grandmother follow her grandson even if his parent is the one talking. That's why I'm so excited about augmented reality. This feature brings stories to life with custom sound effects and visuals. One can use any Alexa to have songs play simultaneously on yours and someone else's Portal for a decentralised dance party. Portal is equipped with a camera that can pan and zoom to places automatically making the video call responsive. This has a much bigger 15-inch screen with a Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) display. The Portal Plus costs $349 and a 1080p screen that rotates into either portrait or landscape mode with a gentle push. The company is savvy enough to address doubts up front about data-privacy protections for the Portal devices.

What are their privacy features? It is clear that the company has noted people's concerns when it comes to the latter, as both sizes of Portal come with buttons that disable the microphones and cameras.

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Another innovative feature that comes with the devices, is that they are created to be used either from a short or long distance, making the video calls via smartphone (where the background is always blurry and pixelated) a thing from the past.

But it does log metadata, including who called who, the length of the calls and any performance issues. Portal's camera doesn't use facial recognition and doesn't identify who you are. "It will be interesting to see how Facebook considers developers and marketing budgets with this new technology and how it will differ from having a Messenger chatbot".

Last month, it emerged United States law officers had recently tried and failed to force Facebook to let them wiretap a criminal gang's Messenger voice calls. This upgraded device is best suited for halls or say, living room, and can notably stand out wherever set up.

"We're not doing anything today and we'll be very transparent and clear publicly if we do start to do something beyond that", said a spokesman.

The space normally dominated by Amazon and Google has a new competitor in its courtyard with Facebook announcing the launch of its own smart speakers. One out of many others are - One can not watch YouTube.

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