Facebook launches new video chat device to provide you with “much richer opportunity to connect” with people. But there are questions surrounding one’s privacy using the portal device. The Facebook video chat device, which represents Facebook’s first push into the hardware market, is a mountable system that allows users to make video calls through Facebook Messenger app.
The privacy questions regarding the Facebook calling device are further fueled by the social media’s fresh fallout with users following a data breach scandal involving millions of users and the Portal’s recording abilities. Most users may not want to install the device in their living rooms where the service is most needed.
Facebook billed the portal a smart home – hence the name Facebook AI video-calling device. The Facebook portal, which comes in two variants: Portal and Portal+; a 10-inch and a 15-inch screen respectively, has a 140-degree wide angle camera, a 12-megapixel Smart Lens, four-microphone array and powered by Amazon’s Alexa. This allows users to make calls, ask questions and play music on Spotify using voice commands. They simply activate the device using a wake word “Portal” for each command.
Augmented reality was not ignored in the Facebook Portal making. It features the augmented reality effects popular on Facebook Messenger. The Facebook video chat device keeps everyone in view automatically by identifying moving objects. Hence, the camera follows you when you move around. But it doesn’t have a facial recognition feature, according to Facebook.
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.
While some reports suggest that the Facebook video chat portal had been held back following the data breach scandal, Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s head of VR and AR hardware, told Telegraph otherwise.
“We had always planned for a fall launch,” Bosworth said.
Facebook is grappling for a comeback from its falling shares but fresh privacy issues keep surfacing since after Cambridge Analytica scandal. The social media giant is still dealing with a recent hack of over 50 million Facebook profiles. The portal launch came after barely two weeks Facebook found the bug that enabled a compromise of millions of account, raising more questions if the device is actually hack-free. But Mr. Bosworth assured users that Portal is fully encrypted and won’t allow even Facebook to “listen, record or stall” any of its content.
“All the processing required is done locally on the device,” Bosworth said. “We have worked hard to ensure the AI is on the device and we think this is a breakthrough for the industry.”
The rate of video calling on Messenger and WhatsApp is on the increase and Facebook is not disputing how awesome it could be on our phones. You have to sacrifice one of your arms. That’s why Facebook is offering “this much richer opportunity to connect.” He added.
Preorders for the device are ongoing but Facebook is not shipping until November in the US and other parts of the word (currently unknown). The 10-inch screen portal is selling at $199 and the 15.6-inch screen variant (portal +) is at $349.