Facebook has launched two new video calling devices, Portal and Portal+. Both devices offer a hands-free AI-based video communication experience, and also offers encryption across calls. Users can also use these devices as digital speakers, as Portal and Portal+ and they also support Amazon’s Alexa, alongside voice commands to start video calls.
Both devices are available for pre-orders in the US through Facebook, Amazon and Best Buy, where Portal and Portal+ have been priced at $199 (Rs 14,700 approx.) and $349 (Rs 25,777 approx.) respectively.
Both of Facebook’s video calling devices come with wide-screen displays, with a soundbar below the screen, and a camera the screens. While Portal comes with a 10-inch display having a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, Portal+ features a 15-inch display, having a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
Both come with Smart Camera, that tracks all user movements, and is able to pan and zoom in order to keep users in view throughout a call. Also, Facebook’s Portal and Portal+ offer Smart Sound, that minimises background noise, and enhances the voice of the speaker, irrespective of their position with respect to the device.
Users can activate video calls on both devices by saying ‘Hey Portal’, followed by the person/people one wishes to call. Portal/Portal+ enables group calls for up to seven people simultaneously, and will allow owners to call Facebook connections using Messenger via smartphones and tablets. Voice control will also offer access to Alexa, that can provide news updates, sports scores, grocery reminders and more.
Besides these features, Facebook Portal/Portal+ also offers immersive interactions, that includes augmented reality (AR) effects, powered by the Spark AR platform. Among these, Story Time allows users to use custom visuals and sound effects during storytelling, while allowing the narrator to use a teleprompter to read the text.
Also, Portal/Portal+ offers Superframe, through which users can choose to share important notifications such as family events, birthdays/anniversaries, etc. Facebook has also partnered with streaming services like Spotify Premium, iHeartRadio, Facebook Watch, Food Network and Newsy, among others.
Facebook’s Portal/Portal+ launch comes at a time when the social media giant has been questioned for the latest data breach, spotted in September, that affected 50 million users. In addition, the company’s other platforms, WhatsApp and Instagram, have seen the co-founders leave, following disagreements over data privacy with CEO Mark Zuckerberg. While the company did promise encryption as part of the newly-launched devices, its real-time use will be the test of safeguarding user data.