Facebook Reportedly Working on a Voice Assistant Compatible With Oculus

Alonzo Simpson
April 20, 2019

Facebook earlier today confirmed that it is working to develop a voice assistant to rival the likes of Amazon.com Inc's Alexa, Apple's Siri and Alphabet's Google Assistant.

Facebook Portal and Portal+ video chat speakers have Smart Camera and Smart Sound technology. The digital assistant will have more of a focus on platforms for hands-free interactions through voice controls and possibly gesture controls. Amazon and Google are far ahead in the smart speaker market with 67 per cent and 30 per cent shares in the U.S. in 2018, respectively. Tis news was first covered by CNBC, which indicates that Facebook's virtual reality team has been continuously working on this project since 2018 under the leadership of Ira Snyder. In the past, Facebook attempted to integrated AI-based digital assistance in its standalone Messenger app but abandoned that plan previous year. But, it seems Facebook's dreams of having its own version of Alexa are alive and well.

What will Facebook do in the assistant space, anyway? Facebook is already, reportedly, in talks with some of the big smart speaker manufacturers out there, to create a smart speaker using their assistant. Amazon's Alexa makes up 67% of the USA smart speaker market. How far they are along in the process remains to be seen, which means we may have to wait for Facebook's annual F8 conference later this month for a bit more information.

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Back in 2015, Facebook introduced M for Messenger, powered by artificial intelligence and human "trainers".

Facebook doesn't have an AI assistant of its own, however, despite longstanding rumors about its ambitions in the space.

The second division, Facebook Reality Labs is run by video game pioneer Michael Abrash, who became a Facebook employee through the Oculus acquisition by Facebook and is now the chief scientist at the VR division.

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