Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Facebook announces AI-powered video calling device "Portal"

Facebook announces AI-powered video calling device

Facebook is marketing the device, called Portal, as a way for its more than 2 billion users to chat with one another without having to fuss with positioning and other controls.

The company, which saw its trust ranking collapse in the 2018 FutureBrand Index, was at pains to explain the security features in its announcement for the device which is yet to have an Australian release date. "When you can't be there, Portal and Portal+ let you feel there", it added. Facebook planned to announce what has become the Portal (formerly code-named "Aloha" at Facebook) at its annual developer conference, F8, in San Jose, California, on May 1, according to Bloomberg.

The camera on the Portal is also backed by smart software that enables it to follow users as they move around in their homes, thereby ensuring the user is always in focus. However, buyers can get two Portal devices as a bundle for Dollars 298, which is USD 100 off. Plus, you can have immersive group conversations with up to seven people (eight including Alexa) to make it feel like old times. Also the Portal cameras don't use facial recognition to identify who you are. With the launch of these devices, Facebook has entered the smart speaker space to compete with the likes of Amazon, Google, and Apple. Portal has Amazon Alexa built in for plenty of extra functionality like asking for sports scores, about the weather forecast, controlling smart home devices, ordering gifts and groceries, and more.

Portal has two models, a 10-inch unit and a 15-inch one, which can be used easily because it doesn't have to be held. Portal comes in two sizes, a 10-inch screen with costs $199 and a 15-inch version which costs $349. Powered by AI, Portal's Smart Camera and Smart Sound technology allow users to enjoy a more convenient, hands-free experience.

You can call Facebook friends and connections on Messenger even if they don't have Portal.

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Facebook is one of the last players in the high-tech sector to launch its own line of consumer electronics devices for the home.

With Facebook Messenger installed on Portal, which allows users to place calls via the Messenger, Facebook Portal clearly has more advantage over Google and Amazon's smart home devices.

Facebook on Monday launched a range of AI-powered video-calling devices, a strategic revolution for the social network giant in its bid for a slice of a market now dominated by Amazon and Google. Portal's launch comes just a couple of weeks after a second security incident at the company, this time involving the theft of access tokens. There's also a physical camera cover to prevent camera recording.

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. The Portal and Portal+ can play music through Spotify Premium, Pandora and iHeartRadio, or stream video from Facebook Watch, Food Network, and Newsy.

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