Facebook Portal Smart Displays Come With Alexa, AI Cameras

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Facebook's new Portal and Portal+ smart displays.

Facebook built two models of Portal, one is 10 inches and the Plus is 15 inches, costing $200 and $350, respectively.

This being Facebook you might also have privacy concerns, and rightly so.

London- Facebook on Monday launched a range of AI-powered video-calling devices, a strategic revolution for the social network giant which is aiming for a slice of the smart speaker market that is now dominated by Amazon and Google.

We've reached out to Facebook to find out about global availability and will update with any new information. Two different models were announced today, the Portal and the larger Portal+.

"Both models are created to help you feel closer to the important people in your life and make video chats feel less like a call, and more like you're actually in the same room", Facebook said in a blog post. As an example, if you have a Portal set up in your kitchen and are chatting with someone while you make dinner, the camera will follow you around the room as best it can so you are always viewable by whomever you're chatting with.

Portal represents Facebook's entry into that fray. Both devices also have a camera cover for when they're not in use, which won't block incoming calls or notifications. The devices don't have facial recognition and do not identify who is using the device as well. (Amazon keeps audio recordings of requests you make to Alexa through the Portal; Facebook does not.) There are no ads on the Portal - at least for now. It will also show you photos and videos from your Facebook library.

Facebook Portal+. The larger device can also pivot.

The company says Facebook's privacy policy applies to Portal, since it uses Messenger for voice and video calls.

Facebook Launches Portal and Portal Plus

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".

What do you think of Facebook hardware launch? Both the devices will use a 12-megapixel camera to enable video calls.

The standard Portal smart speaker features a 10.1-inch 720p display with 10W speakers, and is priced at $199.

The smaller Portal is an Amazon Echo Show style device, which is basically a giant display with a speaker.

Facebook has also built technology to ensure that the webcam can track and pan around the room, keeping the caller in-frame without requiring them to sit or stand in one position, or constantly readjust the device.

With that in mind, the cameras built into Portal are created to intelligently track you as you make your calls. The Facebook app has been known to collect an ungodly amount of data from people's phones, including call history and SMS data on Android.

Facebook says it won't store Portal video on its data centers.

Despite a firestorm of privacy scandals that have engulfed the company over the past year, Facebook wants to put its own smart speaker in your home. By purposefully excluding many features, the Portal becomes purely a music-playing and video-chatting device.

There are only a handful of third-party partners, so far, including Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Newsy, Food Network and Amazon Alexa.

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