Artificial Intelligence

Facebook Launches Video Calling


Facebook announced Monday (Oct. 8) the launch of the Portal and Portal+, its voice-activated communication devices for the home.

In a press release, the social media giant said that artificial intelligence will make it easier to make calls and socialize. The Portal boasts a 10-inch 1280 x 800 display, while the Portal+ comes with a 15-inch 1920 x 1080 pivoting display. Both models are available for pre-order in the U.S. and at Amazon and Best Buy. The devices will start shipping in November and are priced at $199 for the 10-inch display and $349 for the 15-inch. Customers can also get $100 off any two devices, with a bundle of two priced at $298.

“Powered by AI, Portal’s Smart Camera and Smart Sound technology take all of the guesswork out of video calling, letting you enjoy a more convenient, hands-free experience,” Facebook wrote in the press release. “Whether you’re cooking in the kitchen or chasing the kids around the living room, Smart Camera stays with the action and automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view. Smart Sound minimizes background noise and enhances the voice of whoever is talking, no matter where they move. It’s like having your own cinematographer and sound crew direct your personal video calls.”

The social media company also made it easy to connect with Facebook and Messenger friends even if they don’t have a Portal. Calls can be made to and from Messenger-enabled devices, with Portal supporting group calls for up to seven people at one time. Portal also comes with Alexa built in, as well as its own voice capabilities.

With security front and center on many consumers’ minds given the data breaches at Facebook, the company said it has designed the devices with security in mind. For example, the device comes with a camera cover so users can block the camera’s lens, and all video calls are encrypted. Users can also set a four- to 12-digit passcode to keep the screen locked; they must log into Facebook to change it. Facebook also said it doesn’t listen to, view or keep the contents of the video Portal call.


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