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Facebook’s reportedly building a mysterious video chat camera and smart speaker

Facebook is preparing to announce at least two major hardware products next year, according to a report by Bloomberg.

One device is meant specifically for video calls. The device will reportedly feature a “laptop-sized” touchscreen and allow people to feel “like they’re in the same room.” I’m having trouble visualizing how that’s any different from your everyday Skype call – or even Amazon’s new Echo Show – but I imagine there will be something special about it.

Also like Amazon, Facebook is building a smart speaker with its own voice assistant. Because there aren’t enough of those already.

It’s not clear if either of these devices are related to the modular device that Facebook recently patented.

Facebook’s mysterious modular device

The camera and speaker would be the first pieces of hardware to come out of the company’s new Building 8 lab, and arguably the Facebook’s first real attempt at making hardware. Although the company owns VR brand Oculus, these new devices are likely to feature tight integration with Facebook proper.

Building 8 was established last year, and is Facebook’s secretive base for creating new products. Earlier this year, Facebook VP Regina Dugan discussed some of the crazy products Building 8 is working on, including brain-controlled devices and helping deaf people ‘hear’ through their skin.

A big theme of her talk was addressing the dichotomy of how technology can both pull us apart and bring us together, and how her team wants to focus on the latter. These two products, if real, seem to be Facebook’s attempt at making its social network feel a little more human.

The devices are likely to be announced at next year’s F8 developer conference

> Facebook Is Working on a Video Chat Device Bloomberg