Connectivity, augmented and virtual reality (AR, VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) dominated conversations on day two of Facebook developer conference: F8. The company laid out its plan for the next ten years, which include ways to connect remote areas with high speed internet, building visual experiences using AI, developing VR cameras and spectacles to experience AR and the ability to type using your brain.
The most significant announcement came from Building 8, Facebook’s product development and research team. Led by Regina Dugan, the team is working on developing what the company calls silent speech communication, enabling computers to read human thought and turn them into words. The six-month-old project is led by Regina Duncan, former chief of Google’s Advanced Technology and Products, and has 60 scientists and researchers working on the project. Building 8 is also working on a project to let people hear through their skins.
Facebook is investing heavily in research on Internet infrastructure, with Terragraph, a terrestrial wireless system to bring internet connectivity to dense urban, Aquila drones, to allow long distance communication, and Tether-tenna, a small helicopter tethered to a wire containing fiber, which can be deployed immediately to bring back connectivity in case of emergency.
Much of the Internet connectivity infrastructure is currently owned by telecom companies. It makes sense for Facebook to invest in such technologies as its growth depends on more people being connected to the Internet.
In India, Facebook has tied up with telecom companies to provide free WiFi in rural areas under the Express WiFi scheme.
On day two of the developer’s conference, Facebook unveiled two developer cameras for VR that address some of the problems of existing 360-degree cameras, including the fixed nature of images, depth of field, etc. and announced its plans of developing AR glasses. The company is also planning an AI-infused camera across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. And has made open sourced Caffe2 — a framework to build and run AI algorithms on a phone.
The most notable mention missing from this year’s developer’s conference was the Newsfeed, Facebook’s native advertising platform 90% of the social network’s traffic comes from mobile, the company realizes the enormity and the implications of that. The platform is, thus, reorienting itself as a mobile-first application, with a focus on camera. The new announcements at F8 declare an open war on the existing consumer facing technology companies including Google, Amazon, Snapchat, etc, in an attempt to future-proofAR the company.
Also Read: Facebook’s F8 Conference, Day 1 updates