Facebook will soon launch its own voice assistant to rival the likes of Amazon’s (AMZN) Alexa, Apple’s (AAPL) Siri and the Google (GOOG, GOOGL) Assistant.
It has been working on this project since 2018 and is being spearheaded by the company’s augmented reality and virtual reality group, a division that works on hardware, based out of Redmond, Washington. The team is already in talks with the vendors in the smart speaker supply chain. Lead by Ira Snyder, director of AR/VR and Facebook Assistant, the team has been collecting information from vendors in the smart speaker supply chain for some time now.
Even though it is not fully disclosed how exactly people will use the assistant, it is estimated that the assistant will be used on the company’s Portal video chat smart speakers or the Oculus headsets.
However, the market for smart speaker is already being dominated by Amazon and Google with 67% and 30% shares in the U.S. in 2018, and Facebook’s foray into this segment will not be easy.
Previously, the company had launched an AI assistant for its Messenger App called M. It was designed to help humans, but instead needed human help and hence never gained traction. So it was dropped last year.
Last November, the company began selling its Portal video chat service which allows users to place video calls using Facebook Messenger. A ‘Hey Portal’ can initiate simple command tasks but the device relies heavily on Amazon’s Alexa for complex tasks.