Facebook has concluded its annual F8 developer conference. On day 2, the company talked about new connectivity solutions, leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a tool to build visual experiences for people, Virtual Reality (VR) as well as Augmented Reality (AR).
But Building 8, a system that will people type with their brains, was clearly the highlight of the event. “This isn’t about decoding your random thoughts. Think of it like this: You take many photos and choose to share only some of them. Similarly, you have many thoughts and choose to share only some of them,” reads a Facebook blog post.
Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer, who gave the opening keynote, talked about a number of technologies that Facebook is investing in to “build global community”. Let us take a look at everything that was announced on the last day of Facebook F8:
Facebook’s Building 8 project is focused on silent speech communications. The social media giant is working on a system that will let people type with their brains at 100 words per minute. Barring random thoughts, the system will be able to decode relevant information which can be typed directly on to smartphone.
Another similar project will allow users to hear with their skin. “We are building the hardware and software necessary to deliver language through the skin,” Facebook blog post reads.
Facebook’s Chief Scientist of Oculus Research Michael Abrash spoke about device such as transparent glasses that will be capable of overlaying virtual images on the real world. Abrash believes AR technology has a great potential, one that can enhance almost every aspect of people’s lives.
“The set of technologies needed to reach full AR doesn’t exist yet. This is a decade-long investment and it will require major advances in material science, perception, graphics and many other areas,” the blog post reads.
On day 1 of F8, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about how they want to make camera as the first AR platform. It announced “Camera Effects Platform”, which will give developers tools to create effects for the new camera on the social network. This new platform will include Frames Studio and AR Studio products.
Facebook’s Applied Machine Learning Director Joaquin Quiñonero Candela talked about how AI technology used along with camera in Facebook, Instagram and Messenger can now be used to understand surroundings, recognise people, places and things.
Facebook has opened its Camera Effects Platform as well as Caffe2 for developers. Caffe2 framework allows to run AI algorithms on a phone.
Facebook introduced new designs for the Surround 360 technology, used to produce high quality videos for VR. Using the new camera technology, users can now move around within the video scene and explore the same from different viewing angles. The x24 and x6 with Surround 360 can “create some of the most immersive and engaging content ever shot for VR”.
Facebook is investing in new ‘one-size-fits-all’ connectivity solution, that will allow the company to use different technologies together to create flexible networks. Facebook has begun testing its Terragraph system, a city-scale mesh millimeter-wave system that can deliver fiber-like multi-gigabits/s of performance.
Facebook’s Tether-tenna infrastructure is aimed at providing connectivity in case of emergency. The technology uses a small helicopter tethered to a wire containing fiber and power which can be deployed anywhere.