Technology is advancing every day with new products being developed. It started out with smart
speakers with a voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant, like Amazon Echo and Google Home. These
devices brought a hardware version of their websites to the home. Now there are smart display devices
that have the smart speaker features with a display, like the Amazon Echo Show and the Google Home
Hub. Even Facebook decided to make a product to compete with Amazon and Google. Facebook’s
product is the Portal and the Portal Plus (Portal + ).
This product is advertised as a voice-activated smart camera with touchscreen display to keep you
connected with the people that are important to you. Focused on video calls the Portal is capable of
video chatting with other Portal users or people using Facebook through the Messenger app.
One of the biggest differentiators of the Portal and the competition is the smart camera. The wide-angle
camera and software of the Portal simplify video chatting. It has the ability to automatically identify the people in the room. If there are multiple people it is capable of capturing everyone on the call. It also has the ability to zoom in on your face when you are talking and track while still focusing on you as you walk around the room, with the automatic pan feature. This allows for a more natural and personal video chatting while making it more comfortable than having to carry a phone or computer.
The Portal also has smart sound technology. The microphone on the Portal is designed to reduce
background noise while enhancing the voice of the person talking. This allows the users to not have to
yell or be distracted by other noise and focus on the conversation.
The Facebook Portal also comes with additional features and apps. One feature is having the ability to
share and listen to songs at the same time as the person you are chatting with using Spotify. The apps
and features available are limited today but include:
Digital photo frame
Snapchat like AR effects
One of the major concerns for consumers is privacy with the product because of Facebook’s data privacy
scandal and recent data breaches. In order to ease the mind of the consumers, the Portal comes with a
camera cover and the ability to completely turn off the microphone and camera. Facebook also claims
that all the video calls are encrypted and that they aren’t listening or keeping records of the calls. They also allow the user to delete voice history and Alexa history.
However, Facebook has said that does collect some types of information. They are harvesting data
and feeding it to ad algorithms. But what says the other devices aren’t doing the same thing.
The Facebook Portal seems like a work in progress from a privacy and security standpoint and from an
application and feature standpoint as well. If you are ok with the applications currently being offered
and have less of a security concern, this may be the video chatting device you have been looking for.