Facebook Awarded Patent for Electronic Device That Looks a Lot Like a Smart Speaker
Facebook today was awarded a patent for an “Electronic Device” that appears to have holes for a speaker and microphone in the middle of its housing. The patent application was originally filed on December 29, 2016, shortly after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated a home AI assistant he had developed as an experiment.
The patent award has everyone speculating it foreshadows Facebook’s planned entry into the smart speaker category. However, the device has several images and none suggest a screen. Most of the rumors about Facebook’s voice assistant enabled device suggest it will have a screen. This makes sense given that Facebook’s content is primarily visual in text, image or video format. It is much more likely that Facebook will launch a smart display that competes with Amazon Echo Show than a smart speaker to goes up against Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Expect a Smart Display Patent Later This Year
Industry rumors suggested Facebook planned to announce a smart display called Portal at its annual developer conference in May. The speculation was that it would be discussed and maybe demonstrated, but not released until later this year. More recent reporting speculates that any announcements about Portal will be delayed due to the media spotlight currently focused on Zuckerberg’s appearance before Congress and investigations into the role of Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 U.S. elections. Those reports also suggest the device will be released later in 2018. If this all proceeds according to speculation, you should expect another patent that includes a voice-activated smart display to be issued some time this year.