The technology giants are racing to bring speech recognition to consumers through a host of mass-market devices and apps. But one company has been curiously absent: Facebook.
While Mark Zuckerberg has pushed his app across the globe — last week it crossed 2 billion active users to go along with 1.2 billion people on chat service WhatsApp — Facebook has lagged behind its rivals when it comes to voice control.
There's too much at stake for the company to stand still. Research firm Markets and Markets predicted last year that the speech recognition market would reach $10 billion by 2022. Beyond the money, internet companies need consumers using their speech tools so they accumulate even more data in order to improve accuracy.
Device makers have a big advantage in pushing out voice technology because they have direct access to consumers. Unlike, Apple, Amazon and Alphabet, Facebook doesn't have a piece of hardware or a mobile operating system that's in many millions of people's pockets or homes.
The closest thing Facebook has in terms of hardware is Oculus, the virtual reality headset maker Zuckerberg snapped up for $2 billion in 2014. As Facebook seeks to make headway into speech recognition, Oculus is one of its testing grounds.