This news can be broken down in just two parts. Firstly, Building 8 is the name given to Facebook’s new research lab. The research lab is to handle the research and development of hardware products. Secondly, Facebook lured a high ranking Google executive to head the research lab. Her name is Regina Dugan.
Taken like that, one could just gloss over the information and move on to something more interesting. After all, big firms always hire and fire executives. They also create new departments anytime they have an itch to do so. Or anytime they feel like getting news coverage on their firms. Digging a little deeper though reveals that this is not just another PR stunt by a global giant.
The establishment of Building 8, underlines Facebook’s clear intent to expand its portfolio in the technology world. Facebook’s intentions for Building 8 is to put the research lab at the forefront of a decade long plan which includes being at the cutting edge of development in artificial intelligence, providing cheap, fast Internet connectivity to billions of people who have little or no access to the Internet. Facebook drone Project Aquila and Free Basics easily comes to mind as one of the projects under cheap affordable Internet access to the world’s poor. Facebook’s virtually reality division in charge of Oculus VR will also fall under the headship of Ms Dugan. Augmented reality is also not left out of Building 8’s remit.
Announcing the two new developments in his Facebook page, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook said he is,
“….excited to announce that [we’ve started] a new group at Facebook called Building 8 focused on building new hardware products to advance our mission of connecting the world.
This team will be led by Regina Dugan, who most recently led the Advanced Technology and Projects group at Google, and before that was the Director of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – DARPA).
I’m excited to have Regina apply DARPA-style breakthrough development at the intersection of science and products to our mission. 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.”
Regina Dugan is no spring chicken in the corporate world. The PhD degree awardee from the prestigious Caltech, supervised some of Google’s ambitious projects such as
-Google’s modular smartphone known as Project Ara
-3-D sensing technology known as Project Tango, which is likely to be released in some smartphones this year
And what Zuckerberg didn’t mention in his announcement is that Dugan has the distinction of being the first woman to be the Director of DARPA.
In a statement, Dugan said,
“Building 8 is an opportunity to do what I love most… tech infused with a sense of our humanity. Audacious science delivered at scale in products that feel almost magic. A little badass. And beautiful.”
If there were lingering doubts about Facebook’s intent for the future, the creation of Building 8 and grabbing Dugan from Google should dispel them. Facebook intents to be the undisputed world leader in the not too distant future. It is banking on its over 1 billion users as leverage. And by the way, in case you are wondering, the ‘8’ in Building 8 is a reference to the number of letters in Facebook.
photo credits: bidnessetc.com; facebook