A CNBC report in mid of this week suggested that Facebook has been working on building it own digital artificial intelligence (AI) assistant like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
Led by Facebook’s augmented reality and virtual reality group, a division that works on hardware, including the company’s virtual reality Oculus headsets, the flagship AI assistant by the social network giant is said be in making since early 2018.
Facebook has also officially confirmed the report from saying it’s working on an AI-based digital voice assistant in the vein of Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
In a statement to The Verge, a Facebook spokesperson said, “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.”
A Facebook team based out of Redmond, Washington is building the “Facebook Assistant” under the direction of Ira Snyder, a general manager at Facebook Reality Labs and a director of augmented and virtual reality at the company, sad the CNBC report.
Last year in October, Facebook launched its smart speakers called ‘Portal’ and ‘Portal+’ and currently these smart speakers relies on Alexa for assistant functionality, though one can control speaker functions like volume by saying “hey Portal”. However, it remains a fact that Facebook doesn’t have an AI assistant of its own.
In 2015, Facebook unveiled its digital assistant called ‘M’, a Messenger app which was supposed to be the company’s answer to Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant. The M however eventually got shut down by Facebook last year because unlike Siri and Alexa, which are led by AI, the project depended heavily on the help of humans to answer Facebook user’s questions in the Messenger app.
This year in February, Facebook acquired GrokStyle, a San Francisco-based retail technology startup that uses AI to help users shop for furniture. Grokstyle has developed an app that automatically identifies furniture and home decor from just about any picture or angle.
Earlier this year, Facebook had also announced it was launching a blockchain group and the team of which is led by former PayPal and Facebook Messenger boss David Marcus.