Facebook is working on a video chat device with a laptop-sized screen, according to a report from Bloomberg that cites sources “close to the matter.”
The device would be the first major hardware product from the company’s Building 8 lab, and the publication’s sources say the hardware could debut as early as Facebook’s 2018 F8 developer conference.
The hardware itself reportedly features a large screen, wide-angle camera lens, microphones, speakers and smart camera technology for video chatting, all powered by a proprietary voice AI. The report also states that a variant being tested features a slim, vertical stand holding a touchscreen measuring between 13 and 15 inches diagonally.
One of the features of the smart device, say sources, is the ability to automatically scan for people in its range and lock the camera view onto them.
They also note that the company is considering running a version of Android rather than building it’s own operating system, and that a 360-degree camera is also being developed for the devices, but won’t be ready for launch.
Additionally, the social media giant is purportedly working on a voice assistant speaker that would contain the aforementioned AI and compete with Google’s Home and Amazon’s Echo.
The Building 8 lab was set up last year for the purpose of developing hardware to keep users in the broader Facebook ecosystem and is led by former Google executive Regina Dugan, who said at F8 2017 that the company’s goal was to “create and ship new, category-defining consumer products that are social first.”
As for pricing, sources note that Facebook’s standalone speaker would likely be in the low $100 range, while the video chat device would be a few hundred dollars.