Facebook is getting deeper into hardware, with the purpose of going after Amazon and its Echo-line of smart devices.
Bloomberg said Facebook is working on a "video chat device for the home". The social network's experimental Building 8 lab is developing the device, which is described as "the first major hardware product" from the lab. The device will feature a "laptop-sized touchscreen" and smart camera technology, which sounds awfully similar to Amazon's new Echo Show. It could be unveiled in spring 2018.
If true, you can expect it to debut at the F8 2018 developer conference. Now, it's worth noting the same report claimed that Facebook is also working on a standalone smart speaker that would compete with Amazon's Echo speaker and the Google Home speaker. Both of Facebook's new devices would run a Facebook-built voice assistant service. So, Facebook wants to keep us locked into its ecosystem.
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Whether browsing the news feed or using Facebook live, Facebook wants you to use its own devices. The upcoming video chat device will supposedly feature a wide-angle camera lens, microphones, and speakers for video conferencing. And they will all be "powered by artificial intelligence," which makes us think of Messenger's M assistant and Facebook's recent acquisition of AI startup Ozlo.
As for looks, it's thought to feature a thin, vertical stand that holds up the 13- or 15-inch (diagonally) touchscreen. The operating system powering Facebook's video chat device could be a version of Android or something developed by Facebook. It has considered both in the past. Currently, Facebook is testing a feature that would allow the camera to detect and lock onto a subject on its own.
Facebook may even be developing a 360-degree camera for the device, which is supposed to cost around $300, while the standalone speaker will likely be price around $100 to beat the competition.