Facebook to launch smart home speakers with 15-inch display in July
Facebook is looking to take upon Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot, a brand of smart speakers developed by Amazon.com alongside Google Home and Google Home Max, by bringing its own set of smart speakers in the market.
According to a report in Taipai-based website Digitimes, the social networking giant is planning to enter the global smart speaker market by launching two speakers in July 2018 that are mainly aimed to allow family and friends stay in touch with each other through video chat and other social integrations.
“The sources said that the Facebook move is expected to further heat up the global smart speaker market, which has been crowded with heavyweight players, including top supplier Amazon and other tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and many China players including Alibaba. According to estimates by market researcher Canalys, the global market sales of smart speakers are likely to double to over 50 million units in 2018 from 2017,” the report states.
Codenamed, Aloha and Fiona, both the speakers are designed by Facebook’s Building 8 R&D center and will have massive 15-inch LG Display touchscreens. Taiwan’s Pegatron is reported to be the sole contract assembler for the devices.
The model ‘Aloha’, to be promoted under the official name Portal, is expected to be the more high-end model and will use voice-controlled technology. Besides this, it will include “facial recognition to identify users for accessing Facebook through a wide-angle lens on the front of the device,” the report added. It will also have more social networking functions although details are yet unknown. On the other hand, the Fiona model is believed to have less advanced functionalities, but it will include voice commands.
Facebook has signed music licensing contracts with Sony and Universal Music for smart home speakers, which means both the speakers should offer music streaming services to enrich the device’s applications.
Facebook wanted to originally launch the devices in May, but then decided to delay the launch to perfect the acoustic quality and software, the report notes.
Both the devices are expected to form the base for Facebook’s long-term plan to build an ecosystem of video consumer devices that the social media giant plans to bring out during the next five years. The smart speaker is just the initial-stage product, with more terminal devices expected to be rolled out in the coming years, the report added.