After a long spell of speculation, Facebook has finally confirmed that the social media giant is working on an artificial intelligence-based digital voice assistant which is set to compete with Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Alphabet’s Google Assistant. Facebook’s efforts towards an AI based voice assistant is being implemented to serve across all augmented reality/virtual reality products of the company encompassing Portal & Oculus.
Facebook had been known to have worked on an AI assistant for years for its Messenger platform. They developed the text-based smart assistant in 2015 for their messaging service to revamp the experience of having conversations on Messenger and give smart suggestions to users. However, the feature was aborted eventually as it did not get the kind of response that it should have. The company also had given a shot to developing a sturdy network of bots that would integrate AI throughout Messenger and help automate chat features, news alerts and games. However, these bots didn’t quite take off.
Portal was launched later that year and is a dedicated video chatting device that executed simple voice commands. Amazon’s smart speaker Alexa could handle harder commands and it’s still under speculation whether Portal gained many sales outside of Silicon Valley.
Now, the company has shifted its focus from its messaging platform to hands-free interaction through voice control and gesture control. The Facebook AI voice assistant may not stand in direct competition with Alexa but more as an additional feature for its AR/VR products.
According to CNBC, the project started way back in 2018 just a short while before Facebook released a statement declaring the shutdown of Messenger’s personal assistant service. The team that is working on the virtual assistant is working out of Redmond, Washington.
Voice searches are picking up pace fast and the market is escalating at the rate of 40% annually. While Facebook may be focussing on its AR/VR products, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant still remain their direct competitors in the smart speaker market. It will be quite challenging for Facebook to break this market as Amazon had taken up a whopping 67% of the market in 2018 in the United States while Google took 30%. The part that was not captured by these two companies, Apple was fighting for that share.
The Facebook AI voice assistant is all set to help the company to dive deeper into audience insights and their purchase behavior apart from giving its users a touch-free experience with its Portal smart display. We are still waiting for more details on the product, however, it is being rumored that it may be called “Facebook Assistant”. The tech world is looking forward to Facebook F8 developers’ conference which is set to begin on April 30th and the company may divulge more details on “Facebook Assistant”.
Niharika Datta is a Content Writer at Vidooly. She started her career as a Human Resource professional but is now pursuing her love for writing. Though she writes about a myriad of ideas, her personal favourite is writing about the latest trends in the content and digital marketing world. An ambivert by nature, she likes to grab a snack with a warm cup of coffee in the company of a good book or a close friend.