Facebook is making an Alexa rival for its Portal and Oculus hardware

Facebook is building its own AI-powered voice assistant to go with its new and future hardware.

Smart speakers are slowly replacing tablets at home Tablet sales are in gradual decline as smart speakers continue to rocket ahead, according to analyst predictions.

Facebook this week slashed the price of its Portal video chat screen and now the company has revealed it is working on a voice assistant that could be used in the devices. 

Today the tablet-like devices ship with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant built-in, but the devices could soon have a Facebook-made assistant.

"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," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to CNET on Wednesday

According to CNBC, a Facebook team is based in Redmond and headed up Ira Snyder, a former Microsoft employee whose current Facebook title is "director of VR/AR and Facebook Assistant".

SEE: How we learned to talk to computers, and how they learned to answer back (cover story PDF)

The company reportedly kicked off the voice assistant project in early 2018, around the time it pulled its Messenger bot M.    

Facebook this week discounted its two Portal models by $100 hoping to capture extra sales on Mother's Day.  

The 10.1-inch Portal is now $99, down from the original price of $199, while the 15.6-inch display Portal+ now costs $249, down from the regular price of $349. The discount is available until Mother's Day.

Facebook unveiled the home devices in October and they've received generally positive reviews, with 65 percent of reviews on Amazon being 5-star and an overall 4.4 star rating. 

With video communications using Facebook Messenger at the heart of the device, the company heavily stressed privacy features, such as the ability to "completely disable the camera and microphone with a single tap". They also feature a camera cover. 

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