Facebook is reportedly developing a smartphone, smart speaker for video chat

Facebook is reportedly developing new hardware – including a smartphone and smart speaker device – to serve as video chat platforms.

We’ve recently reported on news that Facebook is weighing up its options in the hardware arena, and may be preparing its own modular smartphone and smart speaker. Now, a new rumour has asserted that both these devices will serve one common purpose – as a platform for video chat.
Bloomberg reports that Facebook is actively developing both hardware projects at its secretive Building 8 lab, asserting that Facebook is leveraging veterans of Google’s Project Ara initiative to develop a large, smartphone-like device that will have hardware geared specifically for video chat purposes.
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According to Bloomberg, Facebook is developing a feature for the device that would allow a camera to scan for persons in its range and lock onto them; while that camera will apparently serve similarly to how we experience webcams and selfie cameras, the company is also apparently developing a 360-degree version that will likely not appear at launch.
This could be one indication that the device will sport a modular array built on a slim chassis that will enable consumers to tailor the device to their liking and needs.
Bloomberg has further asserted that Facebook is burgeoning onwards with its plans for a smart speaker, and that the company plans to sell its own device – similar to the profile of Amazon’s Echo units or Google Home – with a price tag lower than $100 USD.
Facebook itself has a mixed history with hardware – the company developed Home as its take on Android in conjunction with HTC prior to the device’s commercial failure, and has since concentrated its efforts on developing plans for drones and, of course, the headset technology first pioneered by its acquisition – Oculus.
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What are your thoughts? Would you be interested in a Facebook-designed video chat device? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!
Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA