Facebook said to be working on dedicated video chat device

Joanna Estrada
August 2, 2017

Apparently, Facebook's Building 8 lab is already working on a video chat device that will be powered by Android.

The report says Facebook plans to announce the larger touchscreen device next spring, but that the company could still kill the smaller standalone speaker before then. Speaking at the most recent F8 conference in April, Dugan said the goal was to "create and ship new, category-defining consumer products that are social first". A version of the device in testing includes a thin, vertical stand that holds a large touchscreen measuring between 13 and 15 inches diagonally, the people said.

Bloomberg's report also claims Building 8 is developing a separate smart speaker product, similar to Amazon's Echo and Google Home, which would use a voice assistant developed by the social network provider.

This isn't Facebook's only dip into making physical products, as sources also told Bloomberg that the Big Blue F is looking into making its own smart speaker à la Amazon Echo and Google Home, and has even brought along ex-Apple employees to add their expertise to the project.

The dedicated video chat device, sources say, will come with a wide angle camera lens, and is being made to help people on a video call feel like they're in the same room.

A spokesperson for Facebook declined to comment on the report. For example, the camera could zoom onto a painting that a child brought home from school to show to a parent away on a business trip. The device might also feature a 360-degree camera accessory in the future. It's reportedly set to retail for "a few hundred dollars", Bloomberg reports, with the standalone smart speaker aiming to sell for somewhere around $100; that speaker could be sidelined entirely, too, if Facebook decides to focus entirely on the video chat hardware.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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