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Facebook is reportedly making a video-chat tablet, for some reason

NOBODY HAS ASKED FOR IT, but that apparently hasn’t stopped Facebook developing a tablet-type-device for video calling.

Bloomberg has the scoop, and reports that Zuck’s experimental Building 8 lab is currently working on the device, which will feature a ’13 to 15in display’, a kickstand, and an AI-powered camera, microphone and speaker setup.

This device’s so-called ‘smart camera’, which could “help far-flung people feel like they’re in the same room,” will work in a similar way to Microsoft’s Kinect by automatically scanning for people in its range and “locking onto them”. Because that’s not creepy at all. 

“For example, the camera could zoom onto a painting that a child brought home from school to show to a parent away on a business trip,” Bloomberg notes in its report. 

Facebook was reportedly testing a 360-degree camera for the device, but Bloomberg‘s sources claim this won’t be ready in time for the launch.

Related: Facebook AI shut down after it starts speaking in its own made up language

The device, which will likely feature a customised version of Android rather than a proprietary OS, is said to be in the prototype phase but is already being tested in people’s homes.

It could be announced as soon as next spring at Facebook’s F8 developer conference and will cost ‘only’ a few hundred dollars when it goes on sale, according to the report.

Facebook, keen to muscle its way into your home, is also said to be working on a standalone smart speaker. 

Speculation claims that the speaker will feature a Siri-style voice assistant, and much like Amazon’s Echo Show it will reportedly come with a built-in touchscreen enabling it to double-up as a digital photo frame.

If these rumours are on the money, Facebook’s upcoming tablet and speaker would be the first pieces of hardware to come out of the firm’s experimental lab, and arguably Facebook’s first real attempt at making hardware.

Although the company owns Oculus, these devices will be the first to offer tight integration with the social network. Yippee. µ 

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