Typing directly from your brain, tiny helicopters that can provide Internet access, new 360 degree cameras and hearing via your skin were just some of the things Facebook (FB) touched on during day two of its F8 developer conference.
If day one of the confab was all about rolling out features designed to take on its rivals, including Snap Inc.’s (SNAP) Snapchat, day two was about future technology that could change the way we do lots of things, similar to how Facebook has transformed communications. (See also: Facebook Dives Into Augmented, Virtual Realities on Day 1 of F8)
Take the idea of typing directly from your brain. Regina Dugan, head of Facebook’s secretive research lab "Building 8" revealed the social media giant is building what she called a “brain-computer speech-to-text interface.” The interface is being designed to translate your thoughts from your brain to a computer screen without having to speak or type. While that may seem a bit out there, Dugan said it’s not as crazy as it seems, showing a video of a Stanford University research experiment in which a person could type word via an electrode implanted in the person’s brain, reported Recode.
Dugan said Facebook is aiming to create technology that could type 100 words per minute from a person’s brain within a few years. The aim is that the interface will “one day become a speech prosthetic for people with communication disorders or a new means for input to AR. Even something as simple as a ‘yes/no’ brain click or a ‘brain mouse’ would be transformative," she said. (See also: Credit Suisse: Facebook Stock Has Huge Upside.)
But the tour of what may come in the future didn’t end there. Facebook is also working on technology to enable people to communicate with each other through their skin. Likening it to braille, Facebook said the technology will serve a purpose similar to the cochlea in a human ear which translates and decodes frequencies but instead of your ears doing the listening, it will be your skin.
On a more-commercial front, after all Facebook is a public, for-profit company, the social media network revealed it is gearing up to design two new 360-degree cameras that can be embedded into all sorts of things, including a soccer ball. During the conference Facebook’s CTO Mike Schroepfer revealed designs for two 360-degree cameras: the x24 which is equipped with 24 cameras and the x6 which will have six. Both can capture more movement giving users more immersive content. Facebook isn’t going to roll out branded cameras but it does plan to license the designs to partners to get the technology into the marketplace later this year, reported TechCrunch.
On the Internet front Facebook’s researchers are also busy creating small helicopter drones that can provide Internet access and would be deployed during emergencies. Dubbed Tether-tenna, the helicopter drones would give people instant access to the internet and the ability to post to Facebook even if a hurricane swept through or a major power outage prevented web access. “When completed, this technology will be able to be deployed immediately and operate for months at a time to bring back connectivity in case of an emergency,” said Yael Maguire, who runs Facebook’s Connectivity Lab in blog post.