Facebook Wants To Put A Camera In Your House

Isaac Cain
October 12, 2018

Since Amazon Echo's release almost four years ago, both Google and Apple have followed Amazon in releasing smart speakers designed for use with their other digital services - some of them, at least.

It is pretty easy to manage Portal access within your home, you can set a 4-to-12-digit passcode to keep the screen locked.

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The Portal features a 10-inch HD 1280×800p display, while the Portal+ comes with a 15-inch Full HD 1920×1080p display.

Portal and Portal+ are available now for pre-order in the United States and will begin shipping in November.

Facebook also says it would not store any of the video sent through the camera on the computers in its data centers. Amazon and Google are in the midst of a corporate spat, and Google disallowed Amazon from having YouTube on the device.

Then there's the issue of Facebook introducing a device with a camera that can pivot around a room to follow the user. Around 50 million Facebook user accounts were exposed by hackers who used an exploit to take over the accounts, the company announced on September 28. Rafa Camargo, soon-to-be vice president of Facebook's Portal division, said in a statement, "We provide more value than anything else".

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The devices will feature voice control, similar to Google Home and Amazon Alexa, along with integration with Facebook's social media services and its Messenger communications platform.

Portal, however, is cheaper, costing only US$199 each, while the new Echo Show, which has a 10.1-inch screen and a speaker at the bottom of the device, costs US$229.

Facebook assures those interested that the Portal devices are "built with privacy and security in mind".

In order to eliminate concerns, the tech giant said that it put privacy and security in mind while designing the new devices, through an option that lets the user completely disable the camera and microphone with a single tap.

Facebook says it does not record, listen to, view or otherwise analyse the content of calls on its servers, and the data involved is encrypted. From there, you can contact anybody who has Facebook's Messenger app - so pretty much everyone.

Facebook representatives prefer to talk about their "mission" rather than business models and profits, but wireless speakers and video calls are a growing market. The Story Time function lets users bring stories to life by using custom sound effects and visuals, while Smart Camera can be used to read a story using teleprompter, as the reader's face and voice change into various characters. That launch was postponed in lieu of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

With video-calling growing exponentially more popular, the Portal device may prove to be a stronger seller than predicted, but it is hard to think of a more unsuitable time for such a product to launch from the company.

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