A Closer Look into the Social Media giant’s new Hardware
Facebook are about to introduce us to a new piece of hardware: Facebook Portal. It is a video communication device and there will be two different models released: Facebook Portal and Facebook Portal Plus.
The difference will be in screen size and its design. However, the focus is on video linking to another person or group of people (as in a conference call). But are we not already here? Millions of people video link by Skype, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp every minute of the day.
Facebook Portal will make the caller and receiver experience a video call like no other. You will feel as though you are in the same room as the person you are talking to. That is because Facebook Portal is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). It has a super smart camera lens and very smart sound.
Smart Sound, Smart Camera
The technology will allow the camera to follow you around the room and even pan out or zoom in just like a film cameraman would in the movies. The smart sound makes you hear as though the caller is in the same room and the background noise is deliberately filtered to sound quieter than the voice of the person you are calling.
Facebook has even claimed the video calling sensation will be a bit like having a sound crew directing audio and a cinematographer brushing up on the effects of the visuals.
What about Facebook Messenger?
Facebook Portal can easily be used to call friends and family on Facebook Messenger. It is not required that the receiver has to have a Facebook Portal device. When you log in to Facebook via Facebook Portal you will see all your friends, contacts and connections as you would now.
When you are not on a call with your Facebook Portal, the screen will display photos or videos (if you select it to do so) or it might just show a list of your contacts and those available for you to connect to. It can also be used to remind you of any important appointments and birthdays coming up.
Facebook Portal can support conference calling for up to seven people at the same time.
Amazon’s Alexa will be built-in to Facebook Portal. Therefore, making a call to another is as simple as saying, “Hey Portal, video call to Cassandra [or whoever happens to be on your list]”.
Amazing Amazon Alexa
The Facebook Portal is truly an amazing piece of kit. The Alexa built-in system lets you ask your Facebook Portal to check the weather in any place you wish, control any other smart devices you might have in your home and even do your home shopping for you.
Is It True Augmented Reality Will Be Part of Facebook Portal?
AR (Augmented Reality) will indeed form part of the Facebook Portal system. The social media giant says it will incorporate AR and realistic effects powered by a smart platform called Spark. This will let you play around with fun stickers and silly faces. The sort of thing we see already on Snapchat.
The AR effects will allow you to augment features like super big eyes, a bald head, nose like a pig and ears like a donkey and more. However, the AR effects do not just stop there. The smart sound system means you can add story effects to your video call.
Explosions, songs, thunderstorms and other weird and wonderful sounds can accompany the Facebook Portal story time experience. How many absent parents will be reading their young children a bedtime story through Facebook Portal in the future and add in those special sound effects for good measure?
Stories can really be brought to life and your children can even formulate a little show or play for relatives who can watch overseas. The Facebook Portal will have a simple teleprompter to allow actors to read off the script in front of them. The script and timing will be perfectly times to feature in those special AR effects.
Relatives and friends from the other side of the world can watch your face transform into a character of your choosing. You may even want to upload your experience onto Facebook or YouTube once you have directed it.
Integrations and Compatible Apps
Like most smart devices coming onto the market, FB Portal will be able to link up in partnership with a number of apps and other smart integrations. If you have Spotify Premium then why not play the music you love in the background while you chat with connections or friends?
Facebook Portal will also partner with Pandora, Food Network and Newsy. Portal and Portal+ is expected to go on sale in the United States from November 2019. There is no sign yet of when it might launch in Europe.