Did you miss a session from the Future of Work Summit? Head over to our Future of Work Summit on-demand library to stream.
Facebook’s research lab Building 8 is reportedly working on a device about the size of a laptop for video calls, anonymous sources told Bloomberg. Sources also say a smart speaker is being developed by the company, and that the devices could be available as soon as spring 2018. If this is true, the undertaking would be the first major hardware projects produced by Building 8.
The news comes a day after Facebook acquired AI assistant startup Ozlo to beef up its conversational AI and Facebook Messenger team, and a week after DigiTimes reported that Facebook is working on a device similar to the Amazon Echo Show.
The dedicated video chat device, sources say, will come with a wide angle camera lens, and is being made to help people on a video call feel like they’re in the same room. A 360-degree camera has also been considered for the device, which may run on the Android operating system.
The devices, which will rival the Apple HomePod and Amazon Echo, will both be powered by a voice-enabled AI assistant like Siri or Alexa. Given that Facebook is far behind many of its rivals in this space, the smart speaker could be abandoned in favor of the video chat device, sources told Bloomberg.
The voice inside these devices could come from a range of places within Facebook: There’s the AI assistant M, which has yet to be fully deployed, and there’s Mark Zuckerberg’s homemade voice assistant Jarvis, which speaks with the voice of Morgan Freeman.
Another possibility: Because Building 8 conducts experiments and hardware research to propel Facebook products, none of this could see the light of day.
VentureBeatVentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact. Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:
- up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
- our newsletters
- gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
- networking features, and more