Facebook 2018 Product Development Investments
In 2018, Facebook is expected to make or will continue to make product development investments in the areas of augmented and virtual reality, Facebook Watch, drone technology, and brain computer-interfaces. In addition, the research revealed that Facebook had submitted a patent application for a "modular electromechanical device" in 2017. This indicates that Facebook may invest in the development of a product associated with this patent at a future date.
Below is an analysis of the products that Facebook is investing in that are either in development or expected to be in development in 2018.
AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY
As presented at Facebook's annual developer conference in April 2017, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, sees AR becoming a "big part of Facebook" in the future. Simply stated, Facebook has ambitions to develop augmented reality (AR) glasses. According to Zuckerberg, “We can’t build the AR product that we want today, so building VR is the path to getting to those AR glasses.” Over the next ten years, Facebook anticipates investing over $3B in VR.
As a result of this ambition, Facebook has several planned product investments for 2018 in the areas of augmented reality and virtual reality. These include:
This video chat device, similar to a smart speaker, features a wide-angle lens and screen, as well as voice control. It is expected to have the capability to use facial technology to connect its users to their Facebook accounts, as well provide third-party music and video-streaming ability. This device is currently in development and is expected to be introduced in May 2018, with the product being circulated in the latter half of the year.
Virtual Art Project:
This discovery tool will allow for location-based advertising, using a phone camera. This product is expected to provide the user with information about local businesses, as well as promotional offers or deals. It is anticipated that Facebook will continue to invest in the development of discovery tools during the next 12 months.
The Oculus Go is a wireless headset that provides the user with an immersive VR experience. The product is still under development with a release date anticipated in early 2018.
As a complement to its Oculus VR products, Facebook is reportedly working on a project called Spaces, which is a platform that will allow users to connect via VR. Spaces is expected to be introduced in 2018.
While Facebook Messenger currently has the capability to accept payments, the process is not as quick and easy as other comparable platforms, such as WeChat. Analysts expect that in 2018, Facebook will invest in easy payment tools for Messenger that will allow users to make payments quickly and easily.
Watch is Facebook's redesigned video platform that was introduced, on a limited basis, in 2017. Watch's purpose is to make watching TV a "social experience." Ultimately, this product would continue to connect users through television. For this product, Facebook acquires television or other original shows for users to watch online. In 2018, Facebook is expected to invest $1B in original content to support this product. According to Daniel Danker, Facebook's Project Management Leader, "video has this amazing power to bring people together and build community.”
Facebook started its quest into drone technology in 2016 with the intent to bring internet connectivity to the 4 billion people throughout the world that currently do not have access. The Aquilla Project has the vision to be a fleet of drones that will "beam internet connectivity throughout the world." Facebook is actively working on this product and is expected to continue to invest in its development in 2018.
Currently in development, this brain-typing computer interface would allow a user to type with just their mind. Essentially, it will turn thought into text. Building 8, Facebook's research and development team, is working with several universities to develop this technology. This platform could assist those who have physical or motor disabilities that interfere with their ability to communicate.
Facebook's ultimate goal with this product, according to Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s R&D division Building 8, is to allow people to type 100 words per minute, which is 5 times faster than typing on a phone.
Another product currently under development is the ability for skin to "hear." These prototypes are being developed to allow your skin to translate sound into frequencies for the brain can understand.
Although this research began in 2017, there are indications that Facebook is continuing to invest in the development of brain-computer interface products in 2018. It was noted that the B8 division was seeking a "Brain-Computer Interface Engineer" for a two-year project, as well as a "Neural Imaging Engineer."
MODULAR ELECTROMECHANICAL DEVICE
A patent was filed by Facebook in July 2017 for a "modular electromechanical device". It is speculated that this device may be component-based and allow users to integrate and swap out different devices such as cameras or phones. No additional information was readily available about its potential use. Given that a patent was filed, there is a possibility that Facebook will be investing in developing this product in 2018.
In 2018, Facebook is expected to invest in developing products associated with augmented and virtual reality, Facebook Watch, drone technology, as well as brain-computer interfaces. In addition, Facebook is expected to invest in developing products associated with their patent for a modular electromechanical device at a future date.