Home News Deals and Investment Facebook launches AI video-calling device ‘Portal’

Facebook launches AI video-calling device ‘Portal’

On Monday, Facebook launched a range of AI-powered video calling devices, a strategic revolution for the social networking giant that aims to take a share of the smart speaker market, currently dominated by Amazon and Google.

“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”.

“We’ve seen a rise of video calling, on both Messenger and WhatsApp — it has been a tremendous trend,” he said.

However, the launch of a product to introduce a camera in the homes of citizens may pose privacy issues to the social media giant, which has suffered several major data breaches this year involving tens of millions of user accounts.

The device, which will be available for pre-order in the United States starting Monday, is designed to allow users to make video calls at home without having to stand in front of the screen or hold a phone at arm’s length.

Although the social media giant acquired Oculus, virtual reality headset manufacturer in 2014, this is the first time that it has been developing a consumer product in-house.

“At some point, we realised that if we want to continue to advance our mission, the hardware we’re dealing with… is limiting, and so we find ourselves building our own hardware to try and accomplish that mission,” Bosworth said.

– ‘Hey Portal’ –

Portal offers a hands-free voice command. It comes in two sizes: a 10-inch screen priced at $199 (173 euros) and a 15-inch version priced at $349. And to start the call, all you need is: “Hey Portal.”

During calls, he can also listen to music on Spotify or videos from Facebook Watch, as well as tell stories to children through the augmented effects app, Story Time.

It also comes with Amazon’s “Alexa” voice interface, which allows users to shop or control home appliances.

During a conversation, the built-in camera can automatically zoom out to include a second person, or be asked to follow a certain person while on the move, even while listening to their voice despite background noise.

But Facebook quickly solved the problem of security, saying that by keeping the process on the device rather than the cloud, the risk of hacking is lower than with a smartphone or a computer.

Calls will be encrypted and artificial intelligence technology will run locally on Portal, not on Facebook’s servers. She will only send voice commands to the servers after hearing “Hey Portal”.

The camera can be blocked by a cover and the camera has a button to disable the lens and the microphone.

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