Facebook Assistant is taking on Siri and Alexa [Updated]

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Facebook Portal
The Facebook Portal smart display is getting a digital assistant with artificial intelligence.
Photo: Facebook

Facebook is going into the voice-driven digital assistant race. Its AI tech will go into the line of Facebook Messenger-driven smart displays this social networking/advertising company launched last fall, as well as other future devices.

Development on the AI assistant began just over a year ago, according to an unconfirmed report from CNBC. The Facebook Assistant project is under the control of Ira Snyder, who also heads up this company’s AR/VR efforts.

When this rival to Siri, Alexa, etc. will launch is unknown.

Update:  Facebook has confirmed most of the details of this report. “We are working to develop voice and AI assistant technologies that may work across our family of AR/VR products including Portal, Oculus and future products,” a spokesperson told Reuters.

Plenty of competition

Facebook has grown to a behemoth with social networking websites and apps, but the company wants into other markets. It launched Portal, its first smart display, several months ago. This uses Amazon’s Alexa for voice control, and  Facebook wants its own offering.

The Facebook Assistant will also be used in this company’s line of Occulus virtual reality headsets.

Apple’s Siri once completely dominated the AI digital assistant space, but Alexa has rosen on popularity as people bought millions of Amazon’s inexpensive smart speakers. The Apple HomePod has contributed only modestly to the number of Siri users.