Facebook's new smart home camera uses AI to follow you around the room

The release of Portal was delayed following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal

Anthony Cuthbertson
Monday 24 September 2018 14:34
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Facebook already has camera-based hardware in the form of its Surround 360 virtual reality camera
Facebook already has camera-based hardware in the form of its Surround 360 virtual reality camera

Facebook is set to release a new smart home device that features an artificial intelligence-equipped camera capable of following people around the room, according to a report.

The Portal device will use a wide-angle video camera equipped with artificial intelligence to recognise people and track their movements, however it will also feature a "privacy shutter" that will allow people to physically block the camera's lens.

The shutter was reportedly only added onto the device in response to poor public trust in Facebook, which recently ranked as the least-trusted brand for consumers when it comes to handling personal data.

The smart home device will be similar to the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speaker, Facebook sources told Cheddar, but will also feature a screen and camera to enable video chats between Facebook users.

It will be the first piece of hardware Facebook has released beyond its Oculus VR headset and is estimated to cost around $400 (£300).

In recent years, the home has become the biggest battleground among technology giants, with Amazon, Apple and Google all releasing their own hardware.

Facebook had originally planned to unveil a smart home device earlier this year at its annual F8 conference, however a scandal surrounding how it handles its users' data led to its delay.

More than 87 million Facebook users had their personal details harvested by the UK firm Cambridge Analytica for the purpose of political profiling in the build up to the 2016 US Presidential elections.

These revelations prompted US lawmakers to call Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg before Congress to answer questions about data privacy, while also resulting in a 'Delete Facebook' campaign by disgruntled users.

The damage to Facebook's brand was dubbed internally as the "brand tax", according to the latest report.

Facebook refused to comment on Cheddar's report of the new device, as it does not comment on rumour or speculation.

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