Facebook unveils voice-controlled camera which watches you in your living room

Facebook unveils voice-controlled camera which watches you in your living room

Facebook unveils voice-controlled camera which watches you in your living room

The new video call devices are powered by AI, with Facebook's "Smart Camera" technology created to follow you as you move around the room and zoom in to the action, meaning you can continue chatting over video while doing chores, cooking in the kitchen, or looking for something in your room. Facebook is promoting the Portal devices as a way to communicate, focusing on video calling - the device's camera will automatically zoom into the main subject in the camera when you are in a video call thanks to the Smart Camera feature, for example.

"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. The smaller of the two options, the Portal, offers a 10-inch display, while the Portal+ jumps up to a 15-inch display that can pivot between portrait and landscape modes.

Facebook's Portal devices are available for pre-order now, with the 10.1-inch variant going for $199, and the 15.6-inch variant going for $349.

Facebook is now accepting pre-orders for the new devices and will be shipping them next month. The devices will start shipping in November. You will also use your existing Facebook or Facebook Messenger account to sign in.

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Portal integrates Amazon's Alexa voice assistant to handle search queries, and Amazon collects audio files of requests made to Alexa.

It only takes a single tap to disable both the microphone and camera. Portal also comes with Facebook and Messenger integration. As of today, all listeners across ad-supported, Plus, and Premium tiers can play their music on Pandora using the power of their voice with Alexa, or share their favorite tunes while chatting with up to six friends directly on Portal's touchscreen interface. Video and voice calls are encrypted and contents of them are not stored, the company said. Users activate the device by using the wake word "Portal" to make calls.

Facebook's advantage over other video-chat services: Chances are, nearly everyone you might want to call already has an account.

Do you plan on picking up a new Portal?

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While Facebook's video calling smart home devices have always been in the works, the wake of another major data privacy scandal doesn't feel like the best time for a product launch.

Facebook servers receive the voice commands you issue after the "Hey Portal" hotword, but you can delete your voice history from the Facebook Activity Log.

The launch of the product comes at a tricky time for Facebook. There's also no way to record video from the camera. If you buy two devices - either two Portals, two Portal Pluses, or one of each - you can save $100 on your purchase via Facebook.

Billed as "private by design", the Facebook Portal vows to never listen to, view or store the contents of your video calls, keeping them secure at al times with strong encryption, while equipping the Smart Camera with "local" AI functionality and eschewing any type of facial recognition. Both devices have a four-mic array that's created to pick up your voice no matter where you are in the room.

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