Last year, Facebook (FB - Free Report) had announced a 10-year roadmap focused on augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology, which will revolutionize the future. The second day of Facebook’s (FB - Free Report) F8 2017 developer conference was a continuation of the same and was full of jaw dropping announcements, including typing with brain and superior connectivity that aims to change the way we live.
Connectivity: Facebook has consistently worked on offering faster connectivity across the globe. However, it is not working on a single technology in order to do so. Instead, it is “designing different technologies for different use cases.” These will then be combined to “create flexible and extensible networks.” Facebook also aims to bring down the cost of connectivity with these latest next gen technologies and make it available for all.
Terragraph, the company’s multi-node wireless system, is designed to boost connectivity in congested urban areas. After testing the system at its headquarters last year, Facebook tested its capabilities in San Jose’s downtown corridor. The company says that it has reduced the “failover rate" to a "blip” by “leveraging” its “software and networking expertise to create software that routes around obstructions in a split second, so the end user won't notice there was a lapse in connection.”
On the other hand, to boost connectivity in remote parts of the world, the company is working on solar powered drones and MMW technologies. Facebook’s solar powered drone, Aquila had a successful test flight last year. The company is currently working on conducting the second flight. As far as connectivity speeds are concerned, Facebook said that it has broken a few records. In case of wireless transfers, the company has achieved a point-to-point data rate of 36 Gbps over 13 km with MMW technology and 80 Gbps using the optical cross-link technology.
More importantly, Facebook is working on Tether-tenna, a small helicopter “tethered to a fiber line” which can build an “insta-infrastructure” and beam Internet in areas affected by natural disasters, thus helping people stranded in those areas to remain connected to the world.
Silent Speech Communication: Regina Dugan, head of Facebook’s DARPA style research lab, Building 8, announced two of Facebook’s most ambitious projects that delve into the area of silent speech communication. This does look straight out of a sci-fi flick. Dugan said that in the future, people will be able to type with their brains at the rate of 100 words (almost five times faster than the typing speed on smartphone currently) per minute with the technology that Facebook is developing. For developing this technology, the company is working with non-invasive and wearable sensors. Apart from this, the company is working on another technology that will allow people to hear with their skin.
Surround 360 Technology: Facebook has added two new cameras—x6 and x24—to its Surround 360 camera line. With these, users can shoot the “most immersive and engaging content” for VR, says Facebook. Moreover, with these cameras, users can see the world from various angles, essentially called 6DoF or the six degrees of freedom.
AR Glasses: Oculus chief scientist of Research, Michael Abrash said that Facebook is working on AR glasses that will “show virtual images overlaid on the real world.” Facebook added that “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. But once that’s achieved, AR has the potential to enhance almost every aspect of our lives, revolutionizing how we work, play and interact.”
Facebook, like all other tech behemoths, Apple (AAPL - Free Report) , Amazon, Microsoft (MSFT - Free Report) , Intel and Alphabet (GOOGL - Free Report) is pumping ample resources to develop the next gen technologies—AR/VR and AI. These are expected to prove lucrative business opportunities, with research firm IDC claiming that AR/VR market will grow to a whopping 143.3 billion by 2020, while that for AI would be close to $46 billion.
Zacks Rank & Stock Price Movement
At present, Facebook has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
In the past one year, the company’s shares generated a return of 26.55%, compared with the Zacks Internet Services industry’s gain of 6.95%.
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