Facebook is getting ready to make a big push into consumer hardware with plans to launch a new video chat device, an Amazon Echo rival, and potentially wearables, too.
As Business Insider reports, the major short-term focus is ‘Aloha’, a video chat device featuring a touchscreen and facial recognition technology. It’s meant to compete against Amazon’s Echo Show, and currently slated for release next May. But Facebook has reportedly run into serious concerns about privacy from consumers participating in marketing studies – indeed, the company has faced legal action over its use of facial recognition elsewhere – and that could be an obstacle in marketing the device, which could be priced at $499.
Fewer details are known about concurrent work on a smart home device more like the Amazon Echo, and wearable devices including “a sensor-laden necklace,” as Business Insider describes it, and smart glasses. But Facebook recently appointed one of its biggest heavy hitters to helm its hardware division: Andrew Bosworth, a 10-year Facebook veteran who played a key role in developing the social media platform’s Messenger and News Feed features. Also in a senior role is Regina Dugan, the former head of Google’s cutting-edge ATAP R&D team, suggesting that Facebook is ready to invest heavily in its forthcoming smart home and IoT devices.