Facebook developing voice assistant to rival Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant: Report

By Digit NewsDesk | Updated Apr 18 2019
Facebook developing voice assistant to rival Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant: Report
HIGHLIGHTS

Facebook is reportedly working on a voice assistant to rival Alexa, Siri and the Google Assistant.

The company is said to be working on this since early 2018.

A team based in Redmond, Washington is leading the development of the AI Assistant.

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Facebook is reportedly working on an Artificial Intelligence-powered virtual assistant that will rival the likes of Amazon Alexa, Apple's Siri and Google Assistant. Citing several people familiar with the matter, CNBC reported that the social media company has been working on the initiative since early 2018. The augmented reality and virtual reality group that works on hardware, like Oculus VR headsets is a part of the development team of Facebook's assistant.

Citing two former Facebook employees who “left the company in recent months,” the news platform also says that a team based out of Redmond, Washington, is leading the “effort to build the new AI assistant”. Ira Snyder, Director of AR/VR and Facebook Assistant is spearheading the team, which is reportedly contacting vendors in the smart speaker supply chain, two people familiar with the matter told CNBC.

Currently, it is not known how and where the company will incorporate the assistant. Since the hardware team is a part of the scheme of things, it should be safe to say that Facebook may develop a new hardware with the Assistant. The social media giant has already launched Portal devices that let users make video calls using Facebook Messenger. The devices come equipped with Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant to handle tasks like check sports scores, weather, control smart home devices, among others.

According to Strategy Analytics, Amazon led the smart speaker market with 35.6 percent share globally in the fourth quarter of 2018. Google’s smart speaker share also rose 29.9 percent, while Apple captured 4.9 percent share. Even in India, Amazon lead the smart speaker market with a 59 percent share in 2018, followed by Google with 39 percent unit share for the year, International Data Corporation (IDC)'s India Monthly Smart Speaker Device Tracker had said.

If you remember, Mark Zuckerberg had coded and developed an AI-powered assistant called “Jarvis” back in 2016. The Facebook CEO built a simple AI that he can talk to on his phone and computer to control his home, including lights, temperature, appliances, music and security. The system he developed used several AI techniques, including natural language processing (NLP), speech recognition, face recognition and reinforcement learning.

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