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Facebook launches 2 home video chat devices

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Facebook is launching two in-home video chat hardware devices, the company announced Monday.

Why it matters: The devices will help Facebook collect more data about how people use technology services, like voice assistants and long-form video, in their home.

The details: The company is announcing two new devices: Portal ($199 USD) and Portal+ ($349 USD). Portal+ is bigger.

  • The devices, which include Amazon Alexa voice assistant technology, let users connect to a plethora of media apps, like Spotify, Pandora and iHeartMusic, as as well as Facebook's TV-competitor app, Facebook Watch.
  • It also includes voice calling and a smart camera that automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view.

Between the lines: While the company has dabbled with some hardware products, like its Oculus Rift VR headset, it typically makes most of its money from software, mostly advertising. This opens up a new revenue stream for the company — hardware sales — but it will also increase engagement to Facebook-owned apps, which are linked to the devices.

The bigger picture: Facebook is facing multiple investigations in the U.S. and around the world for its data-based practices. Facebook says the Portal gives users tools to control privacy settings. Facebook says it doesn’t "listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls."