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Facebook Introduces AR Enhanced Video Calling Devices

Facebook announces Portal and Portal+ devices featuring AR-enhanced video calling.

Social media has been allowing friends and family to communicate and keep up with developments in each others lives, by trading photos and videos. Now Facebook are hoping to let friends and family feel closer with the introduction of Portal and Portal+.

Portal and Portal+ are a range of new devices created by Facebook which lets people connect to each other using enhanced video calling, with the aim of making video calls feel more like people are in the same room.

There are two models, which are now available for pre-order in the US from the official Facebook Portal website as well as selected retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy. The 10-inch 1280 x 800 display model is priced at $199 (USD), while the larger 15-inch 1920 x 1080 Portal+ is priced at $349.

Facebook are integrating a number of technologies into these devices, such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Portal Smart Camera and Smart Sound technology, as well as voice control, Alexa integration and augmented reality (AR) effects.

The Smart Camera allows for automatic pan and zoom, so everyone involved in a video conversation can stay in view, while Smart Sound minimises the effect of background noise and enhances the voice of the person talking.

The Spark AR platform is also being incorporated, which is aimed at making video calls more fun and interactive. The Story Time function lets users bring stories to life by using custom sound effects and visuals, while Smart Camera can be used to read a story using teleprompter, as the reader’s face and voice change into various characters.

When the Portal device is not making a call, it can use the Superframe function to display photos and videos as well as important notifications such as birthday reminders.

A release date for the device has not yet been confirmed. Further information can be found on the Facebook Portal website. For future coverage on Facebook’s AR project, keep checking back with VRFocus.

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