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The Facebook Portal Smart Speaker Is Back, Now With More AI

Facebook’s 2018 was a parade of privacy scandals, congressional pressure, and executive squabbles.

The social and ad network capped off its annus horribilis with a curveball: asking consumers to spend $200 or more to install an internet-connected camera called Portal in their homes to make video calling easier.

Portal’s main feature when it first launched was person-tracking artificial intelligence that crops the video to keep everyone around the device in the frame, and can follow a specific person.

But Facebook has made other changes that give the device a shot at broader popularity, such as adding support for the world’s largest messaging platform, WhatsApp, which has 1.5 billion users and encrypts calls end-to-end.

Portal’s person-tracking algorithms, courtesy of Facebook’s AI researchers, are also used for filters that can enliven video calls by giving someone fuzzy ears or oversized spectacles.

Andrew Bosworth, who leads the division that produces Portal and Facebook’s virtual reality gear, says that means Portal could gain more elaborate augmented reality features in the future.

“There are tons of ways that you could imagine that becoming an experience that two people could share.” Bosworth acknowledges that Portal launched at an awkward time last year given Facebook’s controversies, but says people are now more comfortable with the idea of cohabiting with internet-connected cameras.

2019 Conference

Authors may register now through about Sept 26th (depending on timezone). You should have recieved an email invitation to register notifying you of access to reserved tickets, but if you haven't received the email, simply log in to this website and click the green button below.

 You may need to reset your password if we created a new account for you.  If you have submitted a paper to a workshop, you should join the lottery by clicking the green registration above. All workshop presenters must register for the workshops to gain entrance into the convention center.  Workshop organizers will have a limited number of reserve tickets to give to workshop presenters, and getting your ticket through the lottery would reduce the need for an organizer to consume their reserved tickets.


The speaker submission process for 2020 is now open and will be seeking submissions through to June 30th, 2020. You will be notified early July 2020 of your approval and the final program will go live early August 2020.  You can choose ONE track from the following themes;

This information will only be used to communicate with you about the speaking opportunities and relevant show, ticketing, logistics and follow up. This is the process you MUST comply with to submit a paper for consideration to AI Expo Africa 2020 –

Hands-On Training & Workshops

ODSC West 2019 is one of the largest applied data science conferences in the world.

Our speakers include some of the core contributors to many open source tools, libraries, and languages.

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