Facebook is not known for producing consumer devices. But, apparently, Facebook has plans to change that in the future.
A new report this week suggests that the Menlo Park firm will launch two smart home speakers by July 2018. The two devices, codenamed “Aloha” and “Fiona,” are both rumored to sport 15-inch touchscreens and will focus on video chatting and social-based features, according to industry sources cited by DigiTimes.
Make no mistake, the two devices are likely Facebook’s answer to the growing smart home market — already crowded with competitors like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple’s HomePod. The addition of touchscreens and video calling abilities seem to suggest that the speakers will go toe-to-toe with Amazon’s Echo Show.
DigiTimes reported that the “Aloha” device would be more advanced than “Fiona,” and would likely launch under the brand name Portal. The publication added that Aloha would use voice commands, but could also sport facial recognition technology to automatically log users into their respective Facebook accounts.
We can assume that the social-related functions will be tied to Facebook’s flagship social media platform, but the company is also rumored to have signed music licensing contracts with both Sony and Universal Music.
While DigiTimes doesn’t have a perfect track record of predicting launch timelines, rumors of Facebook smart home speakers have been circling the tech industry for some time.
In August 2017, Bloomberg reported that the tech juggernaut was developing at least two separate smart home speaker products with a digital assistant. Bloomberg noted that at least one would have a touchscreen. Similarly, Business Insider reported that Facebook was working on a mysterious video chatting device codenamed “Aloha.”
These reports seem to suggest that Facebook is becoming serious about edging into the consumer hardware sphere. Notably, “Aloha” and “Fiona” would be the first two products to officially come out of Facebook’s secretive Building 8 — the company’s mysterious hardware development lab.
Reportedly, Facebook was originally planning on unveiling the devices in May, but held off to perfect the “acoustic quality” and “software modification” of the devices, DigiTimes reported.