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Facebook to debut a video chat device and smart speaker next year | Report

02 August 2017 3

Facebook is in a strong position in the software and services business and to expand further, it has been making efforts to capture the hardware market the same way. While it already has VR headsets in the market with the help of Oculus, there are reports suggesting it is now working on a purely Facebook hardware. Now, the latest Bloomberg report mentions that Facebook's Building 8 lab has at least two hardware products under works with the possible launch next year.

The first device in question here is said to be a video chat device with a touchscreen display up to 15-inch in size. Other than the big display, it has smart camera technology, Android operating system, and Facebook's own AI to attract users and convince them to have one inside their homes. It is currently in the prototype phase and is being tested (between 13 to 15 inch) by a few people at their homes. With this device, Facebook is not only aiming users to keep indulging in its ecosystem but is also trying to create a completely new product category.

The camera on the device is said to offer the functionality of automatically scanning people within its range and lock on to them. There is also a 360-degree camera accessory in works for the Android-powered video chat device but sources are quite skeptical that it will make its debut alongside the device itself.

As for the second device, it is said to be a standalone smart speaker like Amazon Echo and Google Home. We heard about it a few weeks ago as well. Facebook is reported to have been hiring people from Apple to work on its own Siri-like voice assistant for both the smart speaker and video chat device.

Talking about the pricing, Facebook is expected to charge about $100 for the smart speaker and "a few hundred dollars" for the video chat device which will be offering more functionalities and features. It is worth mentioning that the report specifically makes it clear that the social networking giant might even scrap the idea of the smart speaker considering that it has already started to become a mainstream product in the market. If it happens, it will be focusing only on the video chat device.


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