Facebook Is Making A Video Chat Device, Appoints Veteran To Head Hardware

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Facebook is moving ahead in the direction of consumer hardware, including a video chat device said to be called Facebook Aloha, according to Business Insider. The social networking giant has chosen Andrew Bosworth to lead the project.

Facebook very serious about hardware

Just a couple of weeks ago, Bloomberg claimed that Facebook’s Building 8 division was working on a video chat device similar to the Amazon Echo Show and a speaker that’s similar to the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Now the report from Business Insider further strengthens the possibility that such devices are in the making.

“We are excited about our long-term investments in virtual reality, augmented reality, and consumer hardware,” a Facebook spokesperson told BI. Further, the executive said the new technologies are capable of bringing the world closer in ways that are not known, and therefore, the company has been building strong leadership in each of these areas.

The appointment of Bosworth, who was most recently vice president of Facebook’s ads and business platforms, to lead the projects also indicates that the company is into something important. Bosworth, who has been at Facebook since 2006, is also known as a closed confidant of Mark Zuckerberg.

The social network company is reportedly looking to cement its position against the likes of Amazon and Alphabet, which are already in the market with their home-assistant devices that enable voice calling. Apple is also looking to launch a similar product, thus leaving Facebook with no option but to consider the device venture seriously.

Scott Kessler, a financial analyst with CRFA, believes that “hardware has hardly been an area of strength for Facebook” and “they are far behind” rivals. The analyst holds a Buy rating on the stock.

What we know about Facebook Aloha

Aloha will probably be the name of Facebook’s video chat device, which could be launched sometime next spring. Facebook Aloha is expected to be a large touchscreen device with a camera and speaker. The device will reportedly be capable of recognizing people’s faces. Apparently, testing is already done in the homes of employees, and the device will supposedly be released around May 2018, according to BI.

For now, the price of Aloha is expected to be around $499, but it is not yet official. The same goes for the release date, which may be shifted further. The Facebook Aloha is expected to run on Android instead of a proprietary core operating system developed by the social media firm. Further, the company is looking to market the Aloha as a mode of communication for the elderly with their families.

For the smart speaker, Facebook is looking to quote a price in the range of $100 to take on the competition from Google and Amazon. The company is also hiring top executives from Apple to work on the speaker and the video calling device, reports BI. This is not new for Facebook, as previously it has poached top executives for its Building 8 division, such as former Google executive Regina Dugan, who is the head of the Building 8.

According to BI, Building 8 is also working on a 360-degree camera and wearables like a sensor-laden necklace.

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