Facebook to launch 'Aloha' - video chat and smart speaker

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Source reported to Bloomberg News that Facebook, in another push to break into the consumer electronics market, is coming out with a smart speaker similar to the Amazon echo show. With that said, the team working on the devices are trying hard to differentiate the new product. The product will be a laptop sized touchscreen that could be announced as soon as next springs F8 conference. Additionally, Facebook is working on a more traditional smart speaker. Some of the features mentioned included:

  • Wide angle lens, mic, and speakers powered by AI
  • Device will be on a thin verticle stand
  • Device will be running Android as OS
  • It is rumored that device may have the capability to 'scan' the room for people and lock on to them. (The example given of how this may work, is a child comes home with a picture from school, the lens can take a picture and send it to a parent on a business trip)
  • Team is working on a possible 360 degree camera for the device
  • The more traditional smart speaker is intended to be lower cost than other comparative technologies, coming in at around $100 and the more premium device is rumored to be priced at a couple hundred dollars.

It will be interesting to see well Facebook does to differntiate themselves from the other products that are already on the market -- also similar to Googles product, it will be interesting to see what kinds of new capabilities become availble to advertisers...

 

Further noted on Business Insider, that major privacy concerns are emerging,

"One hurdle Building 8 has faced in its efforts to build its first device is consumer mistrust of Facebook protecting user privacy, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. The company conducted marketing studies for project Aloha and received overwhelming concern that Facebook would use the device to spy on users, according to one person with knowledge of the matter.

To assuage concerns about privacy, Facebook has considered creative ways to market Aloha, including pitching it as a device for letting the elderly easily communicate with their families. Building 8 employees have also considered creating new brand names beside Facebook to sell their gadgets under."