Facebook might be getting serious about streamlining its consumer products, with the social network announcing it will unify all of its consumer hardware efforts under one roof that will be led by Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth.
According to Business Insider, Bosworth will lead Facebook’s Oculus VR and Building 8 divisions. For some context, Bosworth was Facebook’s vice president of ads and business platform for five years prior to the announcement. As for the divisions, Facebook scooped up Oculus a little over three years ago and uses the division for its virtual reality efforts, while Building 8 is a more secretive division with multiple projects underway.
One of those projects is rumored to be an unannounced video chat device codenamed ‘Aloha,’ which was reported on a few weeks ago. The device, which is slated to be Building 8’s first consumer hardware, looks to directly compete with Amazon’s Echo Show by featuring a large touch screen, speakers, and a camera that can recognize your face.
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According to folks with knowledge of the device, some Facebook employees have used the Aloha in their homes during the past few months, with the idea being to release the device in May 2018. The Aloha could be priced at $499, though the release date and price could change at any point.
The price is not the Aloha’s only potential pitfall, however – folks have criticized Facebook over privacy concerns, and having a product with a camera, microphone, and speakers from the world’s largest social network does not exactly allay those concerns.
To minimize those worries, Facebook will reportedly market the Aloha as a way for the elderly to talk to their families. Some Building 8 employees are also reportedly thinking of creating other brand names to sell the Aloha under.
Because Building 8 itself is rather secretive, it should not come as a huge surprise that the rest of its products are shrouded in mystery. However, the mysterious hardware lab has teased a brain sensor that can type 100 words a minute, along with several other projects that are given two-year deadlines to see whether they can get to the consumer stage.