Facebook raids Google for head of new lab – CNBC

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The announcement came as Facebook laid out a 10 year plan at its annual developer conference, focusing on three pillars of artificial intelligence, powering the main app and bots on Messenger; virtual reality, through its Oculus VR hardware unit and through social experiences in VR on the Facebook site; and connectivity, bringing billions more people online around the world.

Much of its hardware development has been focused on connectivity as part of its Internet.org project to connect the world. Jay Parikh, vice-president of engineering at Facebook, unveiled two new products on Wednesday that will help improve internet access in urban and suburban environments.

Project Aries dramatically expands the number of antennas on each urban cell tower, using software to manage the extra load, and reaching suburban populations where internet connections can begin to get patchy. Terragraph is an open source technology that can be used to supply fast WiFi to public areas by attaching the new devices, for example, to lamp posts. San Jose, a city to the south of Silicon Valley, will trial the technology this year.

These will compliment existing hardware projects focused on rural areas including Facebook’s drone, Acquila, and a satellite which is set to be launched to beam down internet to Sub-Saharan Africa later this year.

Mr Parikh said there was no shortage of “big, hard engineering problems” that Ms Dugan could work on at Facebook. The connectivity lab, for example, will only embark on projects that could make getting online either 10 times cheaper or 10 times faster. “Our objective is to make things an order of magnitude better,” he said.

Facebook raids Google for head of new lab – CNBC