Facebook Portal is now on sale – but will anyone let Zuckerberg’s cameras into their home?


It looks like a spy device, works a bit like one and is built by a company that gathers more data about ordinary people than almost any other company in the history of humanity.

Now Facebook’s camera-equipped Portal device is available to preorder – but it’s far from clear whether consumers will want to allow Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘telescreen’ into their home.

If you living in the US, you can now buy a Portal with a 10-inch screen for $199 or a 15.6-inch Portal+ for $349.

The gadgets are designed to make video calls and both models are equipped with powerful 12-megapixel cameras as well as four microphones.

Are you scared yet? (Picture Reuters)

The devices include ‘Smart Camera’ and ‘Smart Sound’ technology, which use artificial intelligence to automatically pan and zoom the camera to keep everyone speaking in view, while Smart Sound minimises background noise and enhances the voice of whoever is speaking to improve call quality.

Facebook insisted it would not listen to users’ phone calls and use the information to sell adverts.

In a blog published yesterday, it wrote: ‘Facebook does not listen to, view or keep the contents of your Portal video calls. This means nothing you say on a Portal video call is accessed by Facebook or used for advertising.’

Portal is always listening out for a ‘wake word’ such as ‘hey Portal’, unless you turn off its microphones.

Once it hears this command, it will begin sending ‘audio information like voice queries and commands (which may include ambient noise or background conversations)’ back to Facebook.

The device is also capable of tracking its owner’s movements around their home.

It can detect your position in relation to the device by analysing data from your smartphone, whilst Portal’s cameras can also detect movement and wake up the device from standby when someone walks in front of it.

We looked on Twitter to see if people were talking about ordering Portal, but could only find a handful of people who pre-ordered the gadgets, suggesting there is not exactly a huge buzz around its release.

If you’ve bought a Portal, email jasper.hamill@metro.co.uk to tell us why.





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