The already crowded smart speaker space may just find itself with a yet another participant. According to report from DigiTimes, social media giant Facebook is working on such a device, potentially putting itself in competition with the likes of Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft.
As per the report, Facebook’s Building 8 research group is looking to create a smart speaker complete with a 15-inch touch panel. If true, this would essentially resemble a rather large Echo Show, the most recent smart home hub from Amazon. And by rather large, we mean very large. 15 inches is the size of one of the larger Apple laptops, which doesn’t seem to be the most suave design for a smart home device.
DigiTime’s rumor could of course be nothing more than just a rumor. After all, Facebook doesn’t even have a voice assistant at this point, and when asked for comment by the Verge, the company simply said, “We don’t have anything to share at this time.”
We should point out that while Facebook has made it big in the internet space, it has seen far less success in the hardware realm. While companies like Amazon managed to transfer seamlessly from online shopping to creating a virtual assistant by way of Alexa to creating a smart home hub by way of the Echo line, Facebook has been less fortunate. Back in 2013, the company attempted an Android phone known as the HTC First, which was centered around the Facebook News Feed. You probably don’t remember it because it did not do well. In fact, it was only on the market for about two months.
But this could all be water under the bridge for Facebook now, and DigiTimes claims that sources from the “upstream supply chain” say that Chinese iPhone manufacturer Pegatron is already building a smart speaker, with plans to launch in the first quarter of 2018.
If these reports prove out, the touchscreen device would likely serve as another way for you to access Facebook. You might be able to display photos on the large screen, or use it for video calling and other messaging (especially since Facebook Messenger is now such a popular platform.