Facebook, it seems, is keen to foray into the hardware space against established names like Apple and Google. This has become more evident after Business Insider reported a job listing for a retail manager from the social networking giant. The manager will be responsible for designing “disruptive” experiences for selling Facebook’s consumer hardware.
What’s going on in Building 8?
There have been reports about Facebook’s secret division dubbed “Building 8” where at least four consumer products are said to be under production. If the reports are to be believed, one of the products will deploy cameras and augmented reality, thinning the gap between virtual objects and reality. Further, there are rumors of Building 8 working on a drone. In December, the secretive Building 8 reportedly entered into an agreement with 17 universities to boost research and development.
The division, which is headed by former Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency chief and Google executive Regina Dugan, has reportedly signed a “Sponsored Academic Research Agreement,” paving the way for the company to get some new research projects and not have to wait for usually nine to 12 months.
It is believed that, apart from cameras and augmented reality, Facebook is also said to be working towards a project which involves brain scanning technology. The project is currently headed by neuroscientist John Hopkins, who has helped to develop a mind-controlled prosthetic arm, reports Business Insider. Another project might have something to do with medical applications and is lead by a Stanford cardiologist with expertise in early-stage medical device development. Facebook is also looking to embark on a fifth project, the details of which are not known, and the company is said to be looking for someone who can lead it, according to BI.
Hardware is important for Facebook vision
Building 8 is expected to give Facebook a much-needed retail push, offering different retail experiences and a global contact center footprint. As of now, Facebook’s only remarkable hardware is Oculus Rift.
Augmented reality can be introduced in games like Pokemon Go on smartphones, standalone devices such as Microsoft HoloLens or maybe even in devices apparently designed by start-up Magic Leap. Facebook’s arch-rival Apple is also reportedly looking to bring augmented reality to the iPhone 8.
Mark Zuckerberg has already clarified that Facebook’s vision is woven around three main fronts: virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence and making the Internet accessible to all. At the time of Dugan’s appointment, Zuckerberg stated that he is very excited to see Dugan apply DARPA-style breakthroughs.
Zuckerberg added, “This method is characterized by aggressive, fixed timelines, extensive use of partnerships with universities, small and large businesses, and clear objectives for shipping products at scale.”