Facebook is in the process of creating a voice assistant that will rival Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Assistant. This project began in 2018 and is being created by the Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Group at Facebook. This division created the virtual reality Oculus headsets.
According to two former Facebook employees, the team has been contacting vendors in the smart speaker industry, but it is unsure how Facebook expects the system to be used. Some say it could be used for Portal video chat smart speakers, or the Oculus headsets. It is possible that Facebook plans to come out with a whole new future project that would use this technology.
Facebook is jumping into a difficult market. Google and Amazon already own 30% and 67% shares in the smart speaker market in the U.S., respectively. Back in 2015, Facebook released “M,” which was an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant for Messenger. This app was supposed to assist users with smart suggestions, but never gained traction.
In November 2018, Facebook began selling the Portal video chat device. This allows users to place video calls using Facebook Messenger, while using Amazon’s Alexa to handle complex tasks. This could be an opportunity for Facebook to ditch Amazon and use their own voice assistant.
This is definitely something to keep an eye on, for Facebook could be releasing even more products designed to work with this upcoming voice assistant feature.
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