Electronics

Facebook Announces Ill-Advised ‘Portal’ Video Chat Devices

Facebook is a social network, but that hasn’t stopped Zuckerberg and company from trying to muscle into other markets over the years. The only success it had with that comes from buying established companies like Oculus. Now, it’s trying to get a foothold in the burgeoning smart display market on its own with the Portal. It’s a video-call-focused device, which is a strange choice at a time when people trust Facebook less than ever.

Portal is a small display with a speaker, microphones, and a camera that’s supposed to sit in your kitchen or living room. Portal sports a 10-inch 1280 x 800 display for $199, but there’s also the Portal+ with a rotating 15-inch 1080p display (below). Both devices include wide-angle cameras and noise-canceling microphone technology. It can follow you around the room to ensure you remain in frame for your friend on the other end of the video call. If there are multiple people in the room, Portal can use a wide-angle shot to make sure everyone is visible.

Facebook says Portal has been designed with privacy in mind. Both versions of the Portal include a button that completely disables the camera and microphone. In addition, they come with a physical cover for the camera lens. Facebook reportedly wanted to unveil the Portal at its F8 conference earlier this year. However, the continuing revelations of the Cambridge Analytica scandal forced it to push back the launch. It’s easy to see why, too. Putting a piece of Facebook hardware in your house with a camera and microphone seems weird when we know the social network has been the target of sophisticated data collection campaigns.

In addition to video calls, Portal includes hands-free Amazon Alexa integration. This is similar to devices like Amazon’s Echo Show, but it’s unclear if it will have the same on-screen functionality. It also has apps for Pandora, Spotify, and Facebook’s own video services. There’s no support for Facebook’s main website or even Facebook Messenger, though.

Facebook envisions a world in which you just drop a few Portals around the house (like you would have in the past with telephones) so you can have a casual video chat with friends and family via a piece of Facebook hardware. Facebook actually thinks people will want to do this, and maybe they will. Usage numbers haven’t slipped in the wake of recent scandals.

If you want to purchase for yourself or a friend/enemy, the devices go on sale in November.

Now read: Facebook Files Patent For Exactly the Kind of Spying It Claims It Doesn’t Do, Facebook’s Free VPN App Pulled from Apple App Store for Privacy Violations, and Facebook: Cambridge Analytica Got Data on 87M Users

About the author

admin

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *