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Facebook's building an AI video chat device for your home

Facebook is reportedly working on a video chat device for your living room.

The laptop-sized touchscreen and smart camera technology is said to make it so people connecting digitally through the device feel like they're actually in the same room.

This is the first major product from the company's experimental Building 8 lab, which launched last year to develop hardware products, and is also rumoured to be working on a phone and a smart speaker. 

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This is the first major product from the company's experimental Building 8 lab, which launched last year to develop hardware products to further push users into the Facebook system comprised of the the newsfeed, messenger and more

This is the first major product from the company's experimental Building 8 lab, which launched last year to develop hardware products to further push users into the Facebook system comprised of the the newsfeed, messenger and more

FACEBOOK'S VIDEO CHAT DEVICE 

Sources say Facebook's Building 8 hardware lab is working on a video chat device for your living room.

It will have a laptop-sized screen, wide-angle camera, microphone, and speaker boasted by AI.

The company has considered running a version of the Android operating system on the device, but it's not clear if it'd decided to go with it or build its own core system.

A version in testing would enable the camera to automatically scan for faces in the room and zoom into them. 

It may also have a stand that props up the 13 to 15-inch screen, like the Samsung Galaxy View. 

A 360 degree camera is also being tested, although it's unlikely the feature will be ready for the launch.

Sources say the device could launch as early as next spring's F8 developer conference.

Sources familiar with the product told Bloomberg it could be released as soon as next spring's F8 developer conference. 

They also said it's part of fulfilling Mark Zuckerberg's mission of bringing people - especially Facebook users - closer together. 

The device will feature a wide-angle camera, microphone, and speakers boosted by artificial intelligence, and it will be geared for communal use in the living room. 

A version in testing would enable the camera to automatically scan for faces in the room and zoom into them.

A vertical stand that props up the 13 to 15- inch touchscreen - somewhat like the Samsung Galaxy View - is also being tested, as well as a 360 degree camera, though sources say it's unlikely this feature will be ready in time for the launch.

The company has considered running a version of the Android operating system on the device - instead of building its own core operating system, according to the people.

The device will feature a wide-angle camera, microphone, and speakers boosted by artificial intelligence, and it will be geared for communal use in the living room. A version in testing would enable the camera to automatically scan for faces in the room and zoom into them

The device will feature a wide-angle camera, microphone, and speakers boosted by artificial intelligence, and it will be geared for communal use in the living room. A version in testing would enable the camera to automatically scan for faces in the room and zoom into them

Another product -a standalone smart speaker to compete with Google Home and the Amazon Echo - is also underway, according the sources. 

Facebook is looking at a low price point - in the low $100 range - in order to undercut Google and Amazon. 

They added the company is hiring Apple veterans to help build a voice assistant that would run on both the speaker and video calling device. 

This is no surprise, as Facebook has been bringing in its competing firms' people for the experimental lab - Building 8 is staffed with hardware veterans and led by former Google executive Regina Dugan.

The goal of the unit, according to Dugan, is to 'create and ship new, category-defining consumer products that are social first.'

Sources familiar with the video chat product said it could be released as soon as next spring's F8 developer conference. They also said it's part of fulfilling Mark Zuckerberg's mission of bringing people - especially Facebook users - closer together

Sources familiar with the video chat product said it could be released as soon as next spring's F8 developer conference. They also said it's part of fulfilling Mark Zuckerberg's mission of bringing people - especially Facebook users - closer together

She spoke about the role of technology to connect people at the company's F8 conference in April, also touching on the negative consequence of people not interacting to the physical world as much. 

'I'm optimistic that technology can help, that new hardware platforms can chip away at false choices,' Dugan said.

'If we fail it's gonna suck.'

Dugan has said her own relationship with her mother was improved greatly through daily phone calls, so it seems fair to say she has high hopes for the video call device and what it can do for other families.   

In its other hardware efforts, Facebook also appears to be looking into creating a smartphone with interchangeable parts, according to a recent patent filing.

The patent is for a 'modular electromechanical device' that includes a speaker, microphone, GPS and might also function as a phone.

It will allow users can to swap different components onto a device as and when they're needed. 

In its other hardware efforts, Facebook also appears to be looking into creating a smartphone with interchangeable parts. The patent (pictured) is for a 'modular electromechanical device' that includes a speaker, microphone, GPS and might also function as a phone

In its other hardware efforts, Facebook also appears to be looking into creating a smartphone with interchangeable parts. The patent (pictured) is for a 'modular electromechanical device' that includes a speaker, microphone, GPS and might also function as a phone

WHAT DOES THE PATENT SHOW? 

The patent is for a 'modular electromechanical device' that includes a speaker, microphone, GPS and might also function as a phone.

The patent shows a main body and a series of modules made by 3D printing that could attach on to the main body of the phone.

It is not clear what this new device could be used for, although inside reports suggest the secretive Building 8 team are focusing on high tech cameras and machine learning. 

The patent shows a series of modules made by 3D printing that could attach on to the main body of the phone.  

Modular smartphones have generated great enthusiasm in the tech community for their potential to prolong the lifespan of a device and reduce electronic waste. 

Rather than updating the whole device, modular phones allow users to update individual components. 

Google spent years developing its Project Ara modular phone which abruptly stopped last year.

Many members of that team are now working with Facebook's Building 8 group who filed the new patent, according to Business Insider.

It is not clear what the device described in the patent could be used for, although inside reports suggest the secretive Building 8 team are focusing on high tech cameras and machine learning.

It is not clear what the device described in the patent could be used for, although inside reports suggest the secretive Building 8 team are focusing on high tech cameras and machine learning.

'Typically, the hardware components included in the

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