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Facebook announces Portal video chat devices

Facebook has announced Portal as it looks to move into hardware for the first time.

The new smart product will be focused on video chatting, with the ability to to call other Portal users, along with anyone who has Facebook or Facebook Messenger.

As reported by The Verge, he social network brand has unveiled the device in two sizes, while both have been designed with the goal of simplifying video chatting by featuring a wide-angle camera which can track people moving around the room.

As well as identifying your body for this, the company also notes that the Portal aims to create the impression that you're sharing a big room with the people you're taking to.

Facebook considers the conversations through the device to be an augmented reality experience, and it has explained how it's meant to be more comfortable than holding a phone up to your face for the calls.

Instead, the device's camera will automatically find people in the room and make sure they remain in frame, including a wide angle to fit everyone in if there are multiple people.

While the Portal team has acknowledged the fact that many users distrust the company at the moment, it's noted that both devices come with a camera cover, and a button that switches off the mic and camera completely.

While this deactivates them, it will also physically cut the circuit which would prevent any hacking attempts.

The Portal hardware team's vice president Rafa Camargo said: "Those electronics are not accessible from the software, so you have to be physically on the device to connect it back again... We made certain choices that even now our trial users are saying 'I want it'.

"But we made a choice not to offer certain things just to make sure people understood the focus on privacy on the device."

This includes a lack of video recording feature, but there is an always-listening voice assistant to initiate calls, which will have to send voice data to Facebook's servers.

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