Facebook’s Building 8 team has been shrouded in mystery since its inception almost a year ago. Headed by Regina Dugan, who used to lead Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, Building 8’s work was described as DARPA-style breakthrough development in areas including augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence and connectivity.
However, details were sparse, and it was never entirely clear what exactly Facebook was making and when we might see actual products. Fortunately, we might not have long to wait as a report by Business Insider suggests that the Building 8 hardware group will be playing a key role in Facebook’s F8 developer conference in April.
According to Business Insider’s sources, Building 8 is working on four advanced technology projects that range from augmented realities and cameras to more ambitious endeavors like brain scanning technology.
The brain scanning technology is headed by a former John Hopkins neuroscientist who helped develop a prosthetic arm that can be controlled by the mind. Another of the projects could also have medical applications, and is led by a Stanford interventional cardiologist with experience in early-stage medical device development.
That said, what’s interesting is that Building 8 doesn’t seem to be just a collection of moonshot projects for Facebook. A look at Building 8’s recent hires and job listings appears to show a serious effort to build and sell millions of consumer hardware units, with a Hong Kong supply chain outpost, a planned retail push, and even a customer call center operation supposedly on the cards.
More tellingly, Dugan wrote in a March Facebook post that “Smartphones have the power to connect us to people far away from us. Too often, at the expense of the people sitting right next to us. We shouldn’t have to choose.”
An optimistic view would assume that Dugan had some sort of AR experience brewing in the labs that could help with this, although all this is still purely conjecture.
Facebook hasn’t actually confirmed any of this, so we’ll just have to wait till next month’s F8 conference to see if any of this pans out.
Source: Business Insider