Facebook has always been about trying to help people connect. New reports about some hardware in the works from the company indicate a device specifically designed for video chat may be released as soon as early 2018. The video chat device would be the first hardware to come out of Facebook’s Building 8 lab, an experimental unit the company created to open up a new hardware phase as it continues to seek ways to grow the company. Early builds of the device are already being tested by some users.
Facebook’s Building 8 unit is headed up by former Google executive Regina Dugan who expects the new device to be a step toward the goal to “create and ship new, category-defining consumer products that are social first.” The device is described as having a touchscreen measuring 13 to 15 inches diagonally and is held up on a thin stand. Facebook is also planning to equip it with a wide-angle lens, microphones and a speaker.
One area where Facebook is hoping to create some unique value will be in the software driving the camera system. The system will include a feature that scans the room and can automatically lock on to people who are in view. This will make it easier to have the camera do things like zoom in on things like something being held in a person’s hand that they want to show the person on the other end of the connection. Sources also believe Facebook may be using Android for the operating system for the device.
Reports indicate Building 8 is also working on a voice-activated standalone speaker system similar to Amazon Echo or Google Home. That market is quickly becoming saturated and increasingly difficult for others to jump in, so some think Facebook may even abandon their work on that to focus on the video chat device even more.
Do you think a dedicated video chat device would be popular or do smartphones, tablets and computers do an adequate job?