Facebook Launches Video Calling Portals

Nichole VegaOct 12, 2018

The device is relatively straightforward and is similar to the Echo Show, from Jeff Bezos's Amazon.

Facebook fans and foes wondered online if the social network should be trusted as the conduit for a device that serves as an in-home video calling system whjich can follow users as they move around a room.

On Monday, Twitter users were quick to point to Facebook's privacy fallacies and what they saw as the company's impudence in asking people to trust it with a camera called Portal inside their homes. The first gadget is Portal 10.1 inches and the second gadget is Portal Plus size of 15.6 inches and the other side both come with the same custom processor and software, but couldn't look more different from outside.

There are two models, which are now available for pre-order in the United States from the official Facebook Portal website as well as selected retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy. This allows users to make calls, ask questions and play music on Spotify using voice commands. It has a 10-inch display and costs a pricey 2,399 yuan (US$353), more expensive than the Amazon Echo Show.

Their fears were compounded when Facebook revealed another security breach in late September, when hackers were able to enter its computer network, exposing the personal information of almost 50 million users.

To start a call, all one has to do is say: "Hey Portal". Thanks to an Alexa integration, the Portal devices can also do any of the other things that competing smart speakers can do, such as control smart home devices.

To allay privacy concerns, Facebook said it doesn't listen to, view or keep the contents of video calls, which are encrypted for security.

Facebook has made another move into the tech hardware space with the the announcement of its Portal and Portal+ home video communication devices to be launched in the USA in November. Surprisingly, Home Hub does not have a camera, thus it can not be used to make a video call.

Powered by AI, Portal's Smart Camera and Smart Sound technology take all of the guesswork out of video calling, letting people enjoy a more convenient, hands-free experience. You can disable both the camera as well the microphone with a single tap, when not needed. Towards that, it will also respond to "Hey Portal" when users are ready to make a video call. The front camera is 12MP and the large HD screen allows the user to see the other person or people at the opposite end of the call. Seven months after BI's report, in March 2018, the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and the subsequent public hearing that featured Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress, brought public scrutiny to Facebook's ability to keep data private.

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

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