Facebook is working on a video chat device that will feature “a laptop-sized touchscreen” and be announced next year, according to reports. The device – which is officially unconfirmed – is being developed in Building 8, which is tasked with creating consumer hardware and shipping it to millions of people. The news of a video chat device from the company only comes as a leak to Bloomberg through unnamed sources.
Facebook’s Building 8 is notoriously secretive when it comes the software and hardware it’s developing at a particular time. Often, their tech is only found out about when officially announced by the social media giant. As Bloomberg notes, Building 8 has been heavily involved in the vast majority of Facebook’s recent upgrades. In their words:
“The new devices represent a new phase in Facebook’s hardware ambitions. Though the company sells the Oculus virtual reality headset, it acquired its maker and didn’t create the original product (although a new $200 model will debut next year). Last year, the Building 8 lab was set up to help Facebook develop its own hardware and keep consumers locked into its ecosystem — the news feed, Facebook live, video calling and more.”
Facebook is testing a feature that would allow the camera to automatically scan for people in its range and lock onto them, one of the people who spoke to Bloomberg said. While anonymous sources are normally taken with a grain of salt, Bloomberg are known for being pretty accurate, heavily vetting sources no matter whether or not they’re anonymous. According to their sources, the video chat device will cost somewhere in the hundreds of dollars, putting it in the price range of most iPads. Those looking for a cheap alternative to Apple might be sorely disappointed when the prices are officially announced. Facebook has also been developing a 360 degree camera for the device, but people familiar with the matter say it’s unlikely to be ready in time for the initial launch.