Facebook Adds “Hey Facebook” Wake Word to Oculus Quest and Portal
Facebook Portal smart speaker and Oculus Quest headset owners can now say “Hey Facebook” to activate their respective voice assistants. The new wake word suggests Facebook’s long-simmering voice AI plans are starting to ramp up, though the actual voice commands available remain quite limited relative to Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa.
Oculus headsets first added voice commands last year for navigation and control. To issue voice commands, Oculus users select it from the home menu or double-tap the Oculus controller button. “Hey Facebook” is just an alternative that users have to choose to activate from a list of experimental features in the settings menu. Why the wake word isn’t “Hey Oculus” isn’t mentioned in the official announcement, but it could be just because Facebook wants to standardize the voice assistant it is developing across all of the devices and services it provides. Once awakened, Oculus will respond to the existing list of commands, including pulling up friend lists, opening games, and taking screenshots. The limitations of the voice AI would suggest Facebook isn’t going to stop with just a new wake word.
“Our goal is to make Voice Commands a truly hands-free experience—and make it easier to take screenshots, cast, group up with your friends, and more,” Oculus explained in a blog post announcing the new wake word. “We hope “Hey Facebook” helps you do more with Quest, helps you get into your favorite games faster or capture events big and small while staying immersed and in-the-moment. Controllers, hands, and voice—we’re committed to helping you get the most out of your headset, and that starts with providing options.”
Portal to Facebook Voice
Portal smart displays already had a wake word, “Hey Portal.” Replacing it with one so similar without any major overhaul of the embedded voice assistant suggests this is a step within a larger strategy and that Facebook isn’t going to stop with just a new wake word. The wake word could just be an early piece of the voice assistant Mark Zuckerberg confirmed Facebook was developing back in 2019. There are other bits of the puzzle that tie-in neatly with the wake word as well, like a new operating system and the various powerful language translation models it has developed. Add in the virtual assistants for summarizing news and mind-reading sensors for issuing commands to an AI presented at a closed company meeting in December, and a more on-brand wake-word seems rather tame.