Facebook announced its Portal video chat devices back in October. Portal and Portal+ are the two models that it launched in October. They’re basically smart displays that have additional features to enhance the video calling experience. They’re priced at $199 and $349, respectively.
The Portal and Portal+ feature a 10 inch 1280×800 and 15 inch 1920×1080 display respectively. Facebook has previously said that both devices will make video calls feel less like a virtual call and “more like you’re actually in the same room.”
Users can video call anyone with a Portal or any of their friends on Facebook or Messenger. The Portal’s wide angle-camera can identify the user’s body and track them as they move around the room. It can also detect multiple people in the room and use the wide-angle to fit all of them into the frame. If there’s only one person on the call then it will zoom in so that their face is the center of attention. This leaves the user free to focus on the call without having to worry about camera angles.
Now that Facebook is shipping these devices, it’s also addressing some privacy concerns that have been voiced since the devices were launched. Facebook says that it will not view or listen to calls made on Portal devices. The calls will be encrypted while all of the AI features will be performed on the device locally and not on Facebook’s servers.
It clarifies that Portal will provide Facebook with the same device usage information that Messenger-enabled devices do. That data may be used for advertising purposes, it confirms. “For example, we may use the fact that you make lots of video calls to inform some of the ads you see. This information does not include the contents of your Portal video calls,” Facebook says.