Facebook has revealed two new video communication devices which it claims simplifies video calling. As far as the sound quality, the devices are also able to identify background noises to reduce them and enhance the voice of the person who is talking wherever they move in the room. Portal devices also support group calls of up to seven people at the same time. However, it will not be possible to record. Facebook Portal is a smart home speaker that is activated through voice commands and it uses Amazon's Alexa as an AI assistant. Both devices have a pretty clean design - with one seeming like a sleeker-looking Amazon's Echo Show, and the Portal+ looks like a tablet with a 15.6-inch display.
Both of the Portals are created to be used from a distance of between 5ft to 10ft (1.5m to 3m) - further than video calls are typically made from using smartphones and other computers.
The lower-end model - which is just called Portal - has a 10.1in 720p display and less powerful speakers.
Video calls conducted on a Portal are encrypted, while AI technology runs locally on the devices, not Facebook servers. Spotify Premium, Pandora and iHeartRadio let users stream music on the devices, which also show programming from Facebook Watch, Food Network and Newsy.
And it comes bundled with Amazon's voice interface Alexa, enabling users to shop or control household appliances.
A statement from the company said that Portal will not "listen to, view or keep the contents of your Portal video calls" and added that the calls are secure in transit due to Messenger's encryption.
You can get the device into ACTION by saying, "Hey Portal".
The Portal and larger Portal+ (image via Facebook).
Much of the coverage around the launch of Facebook's Portal devices likens them to the smart speakers that other companies have launched.
Facebook expects to stand apart on the market because of Portal's touchscreen and the 400 million people who call through its Messenger service each month worldwide.
Facebook is marketing the device, called Portal, as a way for its more than 2 billion users to chat with one another without having to fuss with positioning and other controls.
Anyway, Portals will start shipping in the United States next month to anyone courageous enough to take the plunge.
In addition, the microphones and the camera can be easily disabled, and if the user does not trust the mute button, then you can lock the lens with a special rubber cap. However, addressing security concerns of smart speakers "always listening" to the conversation, Facebook focuses that Portal has been built with privacy and security in mind. The company has been working on video conference hardware for some time but made a decision to put the project on hold earlier this year because of public outrage about Facebook's data-privacy practices.