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Facebook unveils smart video chat speakers for home

11 October 2018

"Privacy is very, very, very important", said Rafa Camargo, vice president of Portal on Monday, "We really made a conscious choice of not recording, so you have peace of mind". Spotify Premium, Pandora and iHeartRadio let users stream music on the devices, which also show programming from Facebook Watch, Food Network and Newsy. Portal's camera doesn't use facial recognition and doesn't identify who you are.

"Smart Camera stays with the action and automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view".

Portal has a smart camera and a smart sound technology that could focus on whoever is talking, even if he or she is walking around the room. It's like having your own cinematographer and sound crew direct your personal video calls. A camera cover will also be provided to block the camera at anytime along with a passcode to prevent unauthorized use. Facebook has done this to give an assurance to its users that it is not watching their moves.

Also, the company stresses that Facebook doesn't listen or view or keep the content of your Portal video calls.

But by tapping on a person's face, the user on the other end of the call enters Spotlight mode.

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Facebook has revealed two new video communication devices which it claims simplifies video calling.

Google also has revamped services like Search, YouTube, Maps, Calendar, and Photos for Home Hub, adding voice control and information at a glance. These voice-activated gadgets see the social media giant going into competition with Amazon, Apple, Google and others, all of whom seek to be the maker of the device that sits in the corner of everyone's homes responding to shouted commands. Furthermore, Facebook Portal users can also deactivate the device's camera and microphone by pressing a button on the device.

"It would be better if this had end-to-end encryption, and you have to wonder why it doesn't when you recognise that WhatsApp - another part of the Facebook empire - uses it", said Wired's Mr White.

Portal, of course, is not quite an original device.

Facebook Messenger is still the main feature of Portal, which uses that service to ring up your friends on the screen. The device enables you to read the digital assistant's responses, instead of hearing them.

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With Facebook Messenger installed on Portal, which allows users to place calls via the Messenger, Facebook Portal clearly has more advantage over Google and Amazon's smart home devices.

Portal represents Facebook's entry into that fray - but pointing an artificially-intelligent camera into peoples' homes could well raise other privacy questions. More on, Story Time brings stories to life with custom sound effects and visuals.

The Facebook Portal and Portal+ is available to pre-order now, starting from US$199.

Geoffrey Fowler, a reporter from Washington Post, wrote that "the Portal is a sleek new video camera and screen that makes chats with family and friends look great".

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Facebook unveils smart video chat speakers for home