Published: Tue, October 09, 2018
Tech | By

Facebook Announces a Camera for Your House. Didn’t They Just Get Hacked?

Facebook Announces a Camera for Your House. Didn’t They Just Get Hacked?

Facebook is a software company famous for pushing out products quickly and adjusting later depending on the level of uproar.

The device, known as Portal, comes in $199 and $349 versions and its signature feature is a wide-angle camera that automatically keeps users in focus as they move about a room, Facebook hardware executives told Reuters in a meeting last week. You can start a video call simply by saying "Hey Portal" and noting who you'd like to call. And Pandora, iHeart Radio and other streaming services can be played through the built-in speakers.

Compared to Amazon Echo Show, the Portal devices seem pretty limited in nature with a strong emphasis being laid on video calling.

In a possibly vain attempt to reassure users over the firm's record around user privacy, Facebook said the device comes with a camera lens cover and the ability to disable both the camera and the microphone with a single tap.

A four mic array picks up voices for voice recognition and calling, while the stereo speakers included are capable of 10W total output.

Facebook, whose founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was recently questioned by Congress about the company's privacy practices, clearly anticipated scepticism about it selling an AI device that can see and hear in your home and as such insists that it won't "listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls".

Both Portals come with dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity.

Both devices go up for preorder today from Facebook and Amazon, and will begin shipping in November.

CNBC reports that shortly after Facebook's latest user data leak, the company wants consumers to install a Facebook-manufactured camera into their homes.

They said Portal is available at Amazon and Best Buy stores in addition to and starts shipping to USA customers in early November. You'll also be able to delete your Portal or Portal+ device's voice history using your Facebook Activity log.

The smaller Portal packs a 10-inch display with 1280 x 800 resolution, while the Plus gets you a 15-inch screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution. Facebook is pitching it as a device that will make Messenger video calls easier and "more like hanging out". Even as these two tech giants team up, though, Facebook has asserted ownership over the device by offering its own voice controls, as well. If you splash out on two Portals, you can save $100, with a pair costing just $298. We know, that sounds a little spooky, but Facebook has an extensive dedicated privacy section on the Portal website detailing everything that might give you pause. Amazon's Echo Show can make video Drop-In calls as well as video calls through the Alexa app. Amazon will be adding support for Skype video chatting in the future, too.

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