Facebook Portal and Portal

Facebook could put a camera in your home with video calling Portal device

This marks Facebook's first physical product aside from the Oculus virtual reality headset which Facebook acquired in 2014.

The Portal comes in two variants.

The Portal is the closest in style to the Echo Show, with a 10.1-inch 720p screen. It features a pivoting 15-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080.

Arriving in the U.S. in November, Facebook Portal is a $199 (£152) 10-inch screen, with two speakers and a high-quality webcam attached, which the company hopes users will put in their living rooms and kitchens and use to launch video chats with friends and loved ones. (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.

Although, when Portal and Portal+ are in use the cameras will indeed follow users. Its primary objective is to make video calls - the thing any smartphone, tablet, or computer can do - but Amazon Alexa is built-in so it can be your assistant, too. But at a time when CEO Zuckerberg's privacy and security decisions are a matter of congressional inquiry, how many people will trust one in their living room?

Last month the company confirmed it had been the subject of a data breach affecting up to 50 million users, which is now being investigated by the Irish Data Protection Commission (IDPC), the lead supervising authority for Facebook in the EU.

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"It´s been a big shift for the company", Facebook´s vice president of consumer hardware Andrew Bosworth told AFP before the launch of "Portal". You can completely disable the camera and microphone with just a single tap, and both the Portal and Portal+ come with a camera cover to easily block the lens at any time.

Pre-orders are available from Facebook right now, with the smaller Portal being priced at $199 and the Portal+ coming in at $349. Portal represents a new challenge because hardware is hard to tweak in the wild. While FB realizes that its reputation precedes it, it's worth noting that a simple update to its terms and agreements could change practically everything.

Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls. Smart Camera helps you read a fun story via a simple teleprompter, perfectly framed, while your loved ones on the other side watch as your face and voice transform into the story's characters.

The Portal is primarily a device for making video calls with your friends on Facebook and Messenger. Facebook says that even the Facebook Messenger users who don't have Portal will be able to connect with Portal users by utilising cameras built in a laptop, smartphone or tablet. Smart Camera and Smart Sound use AI tech that runs locally and not on Facebook's servers, and the camera doesn't run facial recognition to identify users.

The Portal is available for preorder online and will arrive in stores in November.

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