Facebook, the social media giant, is reportedly working on a video chat device geared toward the home.
Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, reported news that the device is the first major hardware effort from its Building 8 research lab and would take on the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo. The device features a laptop-sized screen that has touch capabilities. It marks a new product category and could be announced as soon as next spring at the company’s F8 developer confab, reported Bloomberg. The new hardware will also have smart camera technology built in and could be aimed at connecting people all over the globe.
The video chat product meshes with Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s stated mission to bring its users closer together. Bloomberg noted the device is currently in the prototype stage but is being tested in consumers’ homes.
According to the report, Facebook’s Building 8 researchers are also working on a standalone smart speaker that would aim to take on Amazon Echo powered by Alexa and Google Home’s voice-activated speaker. The social media company has been hiring employees from Apple to aid in developing a voice-activated assistant similar to Siri, noted the report.
The move on the part of Facebook marks a new push in the hardware market, where it is already a player thanks to its Oculus virtual reality headset unit. The social media network operator created Building 8 lab in 2016 as way to help the company develop hardware that will keep consumers embedded with Facebook and all its apps and services.
In March, CNBC reported the company placed an ad looking for a GTM retail program manager, as all signs point to the social media site establishing a stronger retail presence in consumer hardware. According to CNBC, Facebook’s mysterious Building 8 division is looking for someone who “will have the responsibility of creating disruptive ground-up shopping experiences of Facebook consumer hardware.”