Facebook confirms that it is working on an AI voice assistant for Portal and Oculus products



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Facebook has confirmed a report today saying it is working on a digital voice assistant based on Artificial Intelligence in Alexa's vein and Amazon's Google Assistant. The news, first reported by CNBC, indicates that Facebook is not giving up on a vision it launched years ago when it began developing an artificial intelligence assistant for its Messenger platform, simply called M.

This time, however, Facebook says it's focusing less on messaging and more on platforms where hands-free interaction, via voice control and gesture control, is critical. "We are working to develop voice technologies and AI wizards that can work across our entire family of AR / VR products, including Portal, Oculus and future products," said a Facebook spokesman. The Verge today, following the initial report. This means that Facebook can not position the product as a competitor to Alexa or similar platforms, but rather as a unique feature of its growing family of hardware devices.

CNBC said the team building the assistant is working in Redmond, Wash., under the direction of Ira Snyder, general manager of Facebook Reality Labs and director of augmented and virtual reality for the company. The LinkedIn page of Snyder also lists as director of a product called Facebook Assistant, which is probably the internal name of the project. It's not clear if this will be your final trade name when it's released.

CNBC The project has been in progress since early 2018, shortly before Facebook announced the closure of its personal assistant service. Facebook also attempted to build a robust botnet that would bring artificial intelligence across Messenger, as well as automated chat features, news alerts, and even mobile games, though the Messegner bots have not yet taken off.

This project and the various divisions involved in bringing it to life highlight the goals of Facebook's new approach to experimental technology. Since its acquisition of Oculus in 2013, prospective divisions of the social network have adopted various organizational structures, most recently in the form of a new pair of divisions.

The first of these two divisions is the AR / VR hardware group responsible for developing the Portal's video chat device, and this division now also includes the remnants of Facebook's 8th building, a secret division formerly headed by DARPA's former director and a Google employee named Regina Dugan who left the company in late 2017. The second division is now known as Facebook Reality Labs, led by video game pioneer Michael Abrash, who became a Facebook employee through Oculus and now holds the title of chief scientist of the company VR.

It seems that the Facebook AI assistant is being built together by both teams, with Snyder apparently occupying positions in both divisions. Whatever the final purpose, it is clear that Facebook is treating its growing family of hardware devices as drivers for a shared vision for the future, in which the AI ​​is layered on platforms owned by Facebook and not restricted to unique products .

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