Facebook launches AI video-calling device portal

Facebook is looking to take video calling to the next level with the AI-powered Portal and Portal+ devices.

The company has introduced Portal and Portal+, screens designed to provide users with an immersive and engaging video chat experience without all the distractions.

Users can choose either a 10-inch 1280 x 800 display or 15-inch 1920 x 1080 display, both with as little of the intelligent hardware visible as possible, to give the feeling of being in the same room as loved ones. The devices are 100% hands-free, and the gadgets don’t need to be shifted as you move around. The Smart Camera “automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view,” and the Smart Sound “minimizes background noise and enhances the voice of whoever is talking, no matter where they move.”

Both Portal devices can connect with any user who has the Messenger app, Portal or no Portal. Plus, you can have immersive group conversations with up to seven people (eight including Alexa) to make it feel like old times.

The devices have their own voice control that can be used to start calls, but Portal also supports Alexa who can help with anything from expanding a grocery list to checking sports scores.

They also allow for sharing music with Spotify Premium, Pandora and iHeartRadio as well as telling stories with some augmented reality effects.

With such an immersive and personal tool, it’s essential that user privacy and security is taken carefully into account, and Facebook is working on regaining our trust. The microphone and camera can be fully disabled with just one tap, and each device comes with a camera cover for added security. Finally, you can set a four to 12-digit code to lock Portal until you want to use it again.

Portal and Portal+ are available now for pre-order in the US – from Facebook, as well as Amazon and Best Buy – and will begin shipping in November. You can bring Portal home for $199 USD and Portal+ for $349 USD. You can also receive $100 USD off any two devices — this means a bundle of two Portal devices will be priced at $298 USD, so you can share the experience right out of the box.

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Gbenga Ajao
Gbenga Ajao is a journalist. He has garnered experience in print, electronic and new media. He is passionate about mobile and web technology.

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