Facebook may not be handling users’ data effectively and is getting out of one data breach only to be caught in another, but this is clearly not affecting the company’s plans on expanding its services. The company is in fact, working on something that will enable it to learn even more about its users and their preferences. Okay, we won’t beat around the bush anymore. Facebook is now working on a voice-based virtual assistant that will facilitate easier voice search for its users.
Needless to say, the virtual assistant will be competing with the likes of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. The report about the social media giant working on its digital assistant first surfaced on CNBC, which got in touch with two ex-employees of Facebook.
The ex-employees said that Facebook is working on an AI-powered virtual aide that will be present on its Oculus VR headsets and Portal. The two also said that the company is also in touch with a number of vendors who supply smart speakers and Facebook’s project is being led by Ira Snyder, the company’s head of AR/VR division.
We should mention that this would not be the first time when Facebook would be working on a virtual assistant as the company also launched ‘M’ in 2015. However, the difference is that M was a text-based smart assistant that was aimed at improving conversations and gives users various recommendations, while the one that will be launched will have support for voice-based searches too. It is worth adding that M was closed down last year because it did not interest a lot of users and was not intuitive enough.
But then, Facebook’s experience with M may benefit the company in creating the new virtual assistant, especially at a time when voice searches are really becoming a hit among users. It has also been estimated that this particular market will grow by 40% annually.
Speaking on the development, Facebook said to Reuters that the AI assistant “may work across our family of AR/VR products including Portal, Oculus and future products.”
As we mentioned earlier, two very big competitors Facebook would have to face in this space are Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The two together have captured 97% of the smart speaker market, and needless to say, a number like this is nearly impossible to beat.
It is worth adding that Facebook’s F8 developer conference will begin on April 30 this month and there is a big possibility that we may get to learn a lot more about the virtual assistant as the event.