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Facebook Building 8: Hardware Research, Networking Push?

Regina Dugan

Regina Dugan

Facebook has launched a hardware research and development (R&D) group called Building 8. Google veteran Regina Dugan will lead the group. CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s key goal: More connectivity to ensure the world’s population can reach and consume Facebook’s services anywhere, anytime.

To me, the Building 8 effort suggests Facebook wants to push deeper into the networking market. Already the company has been developing solar-powered drones that offer web connectivity;  radio, satellite and laser technologies; and open source networking (dubbed the Open Compute Project).

At the company’s F8 developer conference Wednesday in San Francisco, VP of Engineering Jay Parikh talked about Project Aries, which adds antennas to radio towers to increase their capacity, and a project to attach chips that spread low-cost spectrum via lamp posts, Bloomberg reported.

Bigger Picture

Regina Dugan arrives at Facebook with impressive credentials. She 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), Zuckerberg noted in a blog.

Zuckerberg added:

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.

We’ll be investing hundreds of people and hundreds of millions of dollars into this effort over the next few years. I’m excited to see breakthroughs on our 10 year roadmap in augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, connectivity and other important areas.

Bottom line: A social network and virtual reality are useless without rapid, reliable connectivity. Dugan will be working on that — and far more — at Facebook.

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