In recent months, Facebook has been announcing that they want to see more of your face. On the heels of last week‘s new Nearby Friends mapping feature announcement, Facebook revealed that they’re following the leads of other tech giants such as Google and Snapchat and expanding into the hardware market with the announcement of their new Facebook video camera.
That’s right- when your front-facing phone camera or webcam just won’t cut it anymore, Facebook stepped up to the plate. The device is called Portal and its premise is eerily creepy to one of those paintings whose eyes follow you when you move. The setup is simple- you put it on a table, counter, or wherever you’d like and connect to Facebook. Portal tracks you- even as you move around the room. It also reportedly minimizes background noise to enhance your voice. Portal comes in two versions: a 10-inch 1280 x 800 display (about the same size as an iPad) and Portal+, a 15-inch 1920 x 1080 pivoting display.
While the idea of a hands-free calling device in itself is seemingly appealing, users are naturally skeptical about privacy concerns. After all, Facebook isn’t known for keeping secrets that well. To mitigate these concerns, Facebook reassured users that it state-of-the-art privacy controls- including the ability to disable the camera and microphone with a single tap, password access, and (not even kidding), “a camera cover, so you can easily block your camera’s lens at any time and still receive incoming calls and notifications, plus use voice commands.”
While many users are skeptical about the new device, many aspiring artists, musicians, and entertainers stated that they believe the camera could have value and allow them to perform hands-free for their Facebook live audiences. Dave, an aspiring musician from Philadelphia, said he liked it because he could perform without having to worry about moving out of frame (as is the case with a webcam) or holding a camera or even worse- a selfie stick.
He did, however, say what many of us are thinking- at the end of the night, it probably needs to be stored safely away in a soundproof closet.
Preferably nowhere near the Ouija board.