Facebook to take plunge into hardware devices: report

An AI-powered video chat device for the home, as well as standalone smart speaker in the works

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Facebook to take plunge into hardware devices: report Social media giant planning first home-grown physical devices. (Getty Images)
By  David Ndichu Published  August 2, 2017

Facebook is reportedly working on a video chat device for the home, as well as standalone smart speaker similar to the Amazon Echo, according to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter.

Both devices would run a Facebook-built voice assistant service.

The video chat device reportedly features a laptop-sized touchscreen and an advanced camera, and could be announced as soon as next spring’s F8 developer conference.

It will feature a wide-angle camera lens, microphones, and speakers for video conferencing that are all powered by artificial intelligence. Facebook is considering running a version of the Android operating system on its device instead of building its own core operating system.

Both products are being developed behind the scenes by the company’s experimental Building 8 lab and could be the first major hardware products from the lab. Though the company sells the Oculus virtual reality headset, it bought out the original manufacturer.

The Building 8 lab is staffed with hardware veterans and led by former Google executive Regina Dugan. Building 8 was set up to help Facebook develop its own hardware in a bid to keep its vast user base locked into its ecosystem, a strategy that has been pursued very successfully by Google.

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