Facebook’s New Voice Assistant To Be Supported By Oculus

Following the success of Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, Facebook has announced that they are (finally) creating a voice assistant to rival the above-mentioned services. The company syas they have been working on the new initiative since as early as 2018, but news of the voice assistant only broke out after a report from CNBC a few weeks ago. A Facebook spokesperson later confirmed the news with a statement in a Reuters report, claiming:

“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.”


Initial Support for Portal and Oculus

The voice assistant will be implemented across Facebook’s entire AR/VR product lineup, most notably Portal and Oculus. They’ve also made an effort to indicate that the voice assistant may be used in upcoming new products in the near future, although we still have no idea what those products may be. As far as supported applications outside of Facebook and its products, it’s anyone’s guess. While it’s very possible that we may see Facebook provide their voice technology to others, it’s still too soon for speculation.


Voice Assistant Capabilities

With very little information released, ideas about how Facebook will implement the AI assistant are all but confirmed. Since it will be a part of various key Facebook products and they are comparing it squarely with the top voice assistants of today, we can hazard a guess as to how it’ll work and what it’ll do.

The company’s Portal video chat smart speaker could greatly benefit from an AI assistant, although the market is already rather saturated. Amazon and Google are several steps ahead of Facebook when it comes to AI assistants, holding 67% and 30% of the market share in the U.S. respectively. Have Google and Apple got too significant a head start in the AI assistant race for Facebook to force their way in? Only time will tell.


Not Facebook’s First Rodeo

The new voice assistant won’t be Facebook’s first attempt at an AI assistant for the Oculus. Since Facebook acquired Oculus back in 2013, they’ve been experimenting with different technologies such as their 2015 AI assistant for Facebook’s Messenger called M (remember that?). The idea was to help users with intuitive and smart suggestions, but it never took off and Facebook eventually had to scrap the project.

In March 2017 we saw an ‘Oculus Voice’ service appear on Oculus devices. Although basic, the service did enable users to perform simple voice searches from Oculus Home, as well as navigate through games and applications. Alexa and similar voice assistants were on a superior level at the time, and Oculus’ initial voice assistant seemed limited in its abilities by comparison. The new and upcoming voice assistant promises vast improvements that make it a viable competitor.


Meet The Team Working On The Project

The development team behind the assistant is operating out of Redmond, Washington, under direction from Ira Synder, the general manager at Facebook Reality Labs. Synder, who previously spent over a decade at Microsoft, is also director of a project called Facebook Assistant, which is probably closely related to Oculus’ Assistant.

Since we have no official statement confirming the name of their new AI assistant, Facebook Assistant might be an internal codename for the project, or it may end up being the actual name of the end product.


What The Future Holds

Considering the rate of progress in the voice powered assistant space, our imagination may be the limiting factor when guessing what Facebook will be able to offer with theirs. As Regina Dugan, former VP at Facebook pointed out, it’s possible that Facebook will one day develop a brain-computer interface.

What’s your take on Facebook’s new voice assistant? Do you use an AI assistant at all? If so, would you consider switching to Facebook’s alternative once it hits the market? Let us know, we’d love to hear your opinion.

6 Best Mixed Reality Apps For Microsoft HoloLens

There have recently been substantial improvements to the power of virtual reality technology, which has successfully managed to push itself to the forefront of the minds of gamers, tech enthusiasts and businesses. Mixed reality, on the other hand, remains a vague term in the mind of the average Joe. In spite of the achievements of mixed and augmented reality projects such as Google Glass and Pokemon Go, many consumers are yet to tune into the benefits of these new platforms.

The Microsoft HoloLens is one mixed reality platform that goes somewhat underappreciated in the discussion. Powered by an app store that includes over 400 apps, many of which are free, this piece of kit must certainly be one of the most fully featured of all mixed reality hardware options. In this article, we’d like to introduce you to some of our favourite applications for the Microsoft Hololens, which demonstrate the potential of mixed reality in a range of scenarios.


Robo Raid


Since the launch of the Microsoft Hololens, Robo Raid has been one of the best apps out for showing people what mixed reality can do.

A space shooting game on the surface, Robo Raid introduced players to the capabilities of mixed reality technology by demonstrating room scanning technology and superimposing game elements onto the user’s physical space.

Imagine virtual space robots bursting through your own living room walls and you’ll understand how this title combines the real world with the virtual to great effect.




If there was ever any doubt in the power of mixed reality for use in education, HoloAnatomy is here to change all that. Allowing users to conjure up life size (or any size you like) anatomical models, Holo Anatomy also provides a virtual narrator to guide you through learning objectives as you explore the human body and it’s systems.

When once diagram may have made the point, medical students can get up-close and personal with the systems of the human body, no cadaver required.


Skype for HoloLens


The development of the Skype app for Hololens indicates that Microsoft intends the platform to continue to be developed as a serious work tool and not become limited to games and experiences.

As well as the simple benefit of being able to place your Skype video call window anywhere within your field of view, Skype for HoloLens also allows the person on the other side of the call to see what you’re seeing and add to your mixed reality drawings whether they are using Skype for HoloLens or a regular computer.



If you’re a fan of hit US crime show CSI, then you’ll love Fragments. This mixed reality game-slash-experience superimposes virtual characters into your physical space to create a story-driven detective game that takes place in your own home. Suspects are interviewed on your sofa and clues are hidden elsewhere in the living room.

Strong visuals combined with emotive storytelling create an immersive MR experience that some may have imagined was only possible with VR technology.



This new addition to our list shows the ambition of app developers to make the absolute most of the Hololens hardware. HoleLenz, created by developers in Japan, allows users to cast virtual “holes”, which are similar to windows or portals, into their physical environment.

Users can choose to float these portals in space, or add them to a wall, but in either case, breathtaking scenery from 8000 meters above Japan’s Mt. Fuji is visible through the portal.

You can then create more holes of various sizes and even step through the portal, transporting you to the other dimension…


White Cane

White Cane has to be included in any rundown of the best apps for Microsoft Hololens because of it’s bold ambition to change lives through the power to mixed reality technology.

White Cane is an experimental app, created to share an idea of how blind people could be helped by using cameras and sensors to detect surfaces and objects around a user before employing sound to relay this information to users in a way they can make use of.

Different surfaces create different sounds and users are able to tell by sound if the way ahead is clear. Though White Cane is just a proof of concept at this point in time, it demonstrates the genuine challenges which people face that could one day be helped using mixed reality.



Hopefully this article has shown you that mixed reality is continuing to improve and become more useful with every passing day. With Microsoft announcing that Hololens 2 is already in development, there’s never been a better time to try MR by taking advantage of our Microsoft Hololens hire service. Of course, we’ll also have the Microsoft Hololens 2 available for hire when it’s eventually released to the public.