Facebook may have started out as a mere social media platform but it is now very much a technology company, with plans to take on rivals Google and Amazon in the voice assistant market it has recently been revealed.
Yesterday, CNBC reported that Facebook was developing its own Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant technology and that it would most likely be used on a range of products including the Portal video chat speakers and Oculus virtual reality (VR) headsets.
Reuters then received official confirmation that this was correct from a Facebook spokesperson: “We are working to develop voice and AI assistant technologies that may work across our family of AR/VR products including Portal, Oculus and future products.”
There are no other details just yet on how Facebook envisions a voice assistant working in VR, although outside of the technology it may be planning its own smart speakers like Amazon Echo. As for VR, a decent voice assistant could help you look for new videogames or specific content online, or just to simply remind users to leave the VR realm and walk the dog once in a while.
You can, in fact, use your voice to navigate on the headset using a feature called Oculus Voice which was introduced in 2017. By no means as advanced as Alexa, Oculus Voice featured limited commands that allowed users to launch an application or find a particular title. There was certainly no asking it for the weather, a good recipe or a bad joke. Which one day you might be able to.
If Facebook is going to release further details about its voice assistant plans then it F8 developers conference at the end of the month will be the most likely time. Although, almost everyone will be much more keen to see an official launch date for Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S finally get mentioned. Of which the former has seen further titles added to its launch roster today, including Thumper and Bait!
VRFocus will continue to report on Facebook’s latest VR and augmented reality (AR) plans as the company continues to invest in the technology.