Facebook has announced the launch its own smart speakers in the market called the Portal and the Portal+.
Facebook Portal has a screen diagonal of 10.1 inches and Portal + has a screen diagonal of 15.6 inch.
Smart Camera and Smart Sound use AI (artificial intelligence) technology for added security and runs locally on Portal, not on Facebook servers.
Now, if you believe Facebook, these are secure devices: you can disable the 12MP camera and microphone with one tap, and/or use the built-in camera cover to block the lens (IMHO, something all computers and smart devices should come with). Portal's camera doesn't use facial recognition and doesn't identify who you are. Callers always stay in frame, as the device's smart camera (with an 8x zoom) constantly adjusts to your motion. It also reportedly minimizes background noise to enhance your voice. Facebook has done this to give an assurance to its users that it is not watching their moves.
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Google made a point of noting that Home Hub, unlike the Echo Show and Facebook Portal, will not have a camera. Changing the passcode requires your Facebook password. "With a camera and video in your house, your bedroom, your living room that takes voice commands, how do you know if your information will be retained?"
And it comes bundled with Amazon's voice interface Alexa, enabling users to shop or control household appliances. Like other voice-enabled devices, Portal only sends voice commands to Facebook servers after you say, "Hey Portal".
And if there is aa breach of trust with the Portal devices, will that not only negatively impact Facebook, but could it also drag Alexa and Amazon (and voice-first in general) down with it?
The new product, called Portal, has been described by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as a device that makes video calling feel a lot more like hanging out. While voice-enabled smart displays like the Portal are in a budding product category, ownership of smart speakers like the Amazon Echo or Google Home will rise to 48% of US consumers after this holiday season from 32% in August, Adobe Analytics forecast. You can also use the touchscreen to start a call. Portal devices also support group calls of up to seven people at the same time.
While many users are skeptical about the new device, many aspiring artists, musicians, and entertainers stated that they believe the camera could have value and allow them to perform hands-free for their Facebook live audiences.