Facebook’s support for the fight against COVID-19 now includes a simple but important addition: keeping people in touch. It’s partnering with the UK’s National Health Service to offer up to 2,050 free Portal video calling devices to the country’s hospitals, care homes, hospices and other medical settings. The hardware will help patients contact friends and family at a time when they can’t see each other in person.
About 50 Portals are already in use at pilot locations in Surrey, with London, Manchester and Newcastle cities coming soon. Wired shared leaked details on April 6th. While this will initially be useful only to locations with sufficient WiFi connections, the NHS is looking at options like LTE hotspots and cellular-equipped tablets to enable chats in areas where WiFi isn’t an option.