Last year, Facebook created a secretive hardware research division which is currently developing a “brain-computer interface” technology. Recent job postings have been seen where Facebook’s Building 8 group reference a new hardware project that involves “neuroimaging” and “electrophysiological data” in order to create a “communications platform of the future.” The postings are looking for an individual with a Ph.D. in neuroscience who will be able to assist in a project, bringing it from “inception to product” over a period of two years.
Whilst there have been no official confirmations from Facebook, a 2015 comment from CEO Mark Zuckerberg hints towards the company seeking out help for a project to create a brain-controlled, telepathic communication device. During a Q&A session in June 2015, Zuckerberg said,
“One day, I believe we’ll be able to send full rich thoughts to each other directly using technology. You’ll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too if you’d like.”
There were also similar listings which were requesting engineers who were able to develop “novel non-invasive neuroimaging technologies” and create “realistic and immersive haptics experiences.” The idea of neuroimaging is to understand what is going on in a human brain, whilst the use of haptic technology simulates a sense of touch using computers.
In September, a former program manager of applied neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University called Mark Chevrolet, joined the Facebook team as a “technical project lead”. If the idea did become a success, it could be a huge technological breakthrough, as well as putting Facebook, the largest social network, at the forefront of technology and science.
Facebook has recently been seen as rapidly increasing its efforts to pioneer the innovative technology world, taking Google’s Regina Dugan in April 2016 to lead the new Building 8 team. Dugan, who was previously the director of the U.S government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, before working for Google, was said to be hired by Facebook to be in charge of building “technologies that fluidly blend physical and digital worlds.”
The huge social media network has kept things reasonably quiet about the Building 8 team, which sets its mission to develop consumer hardware products in an attempt to advance Facebook’s main mission of “connecting the world”. There is also a two-year term limit on the majority of Building 8’s job listings, which could be looked at as a developmental time-frame target for the completion of a project.
Building 8 has not yet officially announced any products, although the various job listings could indicate that there are currently a decent number of internals projects that are currently underway, or in the pipeline. In December, an announcement was made by Facebook about a partnership between Building 8 and a total of 17 universities which were to collaborate on scientific research projects.