Heating up the smart speakers’ segment for home, Facebook today introduced Portal and Portal+, two new video communication devices powered by AI to make video calling easier. While Portal+ comes with 15-inch full-HD display, Portal comes with 10-inch 1280 x 800 display, and lets you enjoy video calling hands and distraction free.
“Whether you’re cooking in the kitchen or chasing the kids around the living room, Smart Camera stays with the action and automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view. Smart Sound minimises background noise and enhances the voice of whoever is talking, no matter where they move,” Facebook said in a blog post.
You can also user Portal to call your Facebook friends and connections on Messenger even if they don’t have Portal. 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.
You can start a video call simply by saying “Hey Portal” and noting who you’d like to call. Portal also has Amazon Alexa built in, this you can ask for sports scores, check the weather, control smart home devices, order groceries, and more.
For security and privacy purposes, Facebook allows to completely disable the camera and microphone with a single tap on Portal. Both the devices 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.
To manage Portal access within your home, you can set a four- to 12-digit passcode to keep the screen locked. Changing the passcode requires your Facebook password.
“Facebook doesn’t listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls. Your Portal conversations stay between you and the people you’re calling. In addition, video calls on Portal are encrypted, so your calls are always secure,” the company added.
For added security, Smart Camera and Smart Sound use AI technology that runs locally on Portal, not on Facebook servers. Portal’s camera doesn’t use facial recognition and doesn’t identify who you are.
Like other voice-enabled devices, Portal only sends voice commands to Facebook servers after you say, “Hey Portal.” You can delete your Portal’s voice history in your Facebook Activity Log at any time.
Facebook has partnered with Spotify Premium, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, as well as Facebook Watch, Food Network and Newsy for shared activities.
Users can also add augmented reality (AR) effects to make calls interactive. Story Time brings stories to life with custom sound effects and visuals. And when you’re not on a call, Portal’s Superframe can display your favourite photos and videos and important notifications like birthday reminders, etc. Welcome Home
Portal and Portal+ are available now for pre-order in the US -- from Facebook and will begin shipping in November.