Facebook confirms it is working on a digital assistant for AR and VR devices

Social networking giant Facebook is dabbling in the digital assistant space again. A Facebook spokesperson has confirmed to Neowin that it is developing an artificial intelligence-based virtual assistant that may work across its family of augmented and virtual reality devices such as Portal and Oculus.

Facebook's confirmation comes after CNBC reported that the team behind the company’s Oculus headset has been working on the digital assistant since early 2018. Ira Snyder, Director of AR/VR and Facebook Assistant, is said to be overseeing the development efforts.

Facebook's AR-enabled Portal devices, which were announced in late 2018 with a focus on video calling via Messenger, already has a digital assistant support courtesy of Amazon's Alexa. With the new work that Facebook is doing, those devices will be relying on an in-house digital assistant in the future. Facebook didn't say, however, when this solution will be rolling out to consumers.

It is not the first time that the Menlo Park-based company is investing its resources on a voice assistant system. In 2015, Facebook introduced M, a personal assistant that was meant to reside only within its Messenger app to help users carry out certain tasks like ordering a birthday cake, for example. That service did not last that long after it was shut down early last year. Of course, it remains to be seen how Facebook's latest virtual assistant initiative will pan out.

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