Is a Face­book smart­phone in the works

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

SAN FRAN­CISCO: Face­book could be working on a smart­phone, ac­cord­ing to pa­per­work re­cently spot­ted by cyber sleuths which the tech gi­ant filed ear­lier this year. A Face­book unit de­voted to hard­ware filed a patent ap­pli­ca­tion in Jan­uary for a mys­te­ri­ous “mod­u­lar electro­mechan­i­cal de­vice” that could have speak­ers, cam­eras, mi­cro­phones, touch­screens, and dis­plays.

“A user can change the func­tion­al­ity of the mod­u­lar electro­mechan­i­cal de­vice based upon the dif­fer­ent func­tional mod­ules that are con­nected,” read the sum­mary por­tion of the some­what cryptic pa­per­work filed with US patent of­fi­cials.

Spec­u­la­tion has swirled for years re­gard­ing whether the lead­ing so­cial net­work would try to cap­i­tal­ize on its pop­u­lar­ity with its own smart­phone. Face­book has re­peat­edly dis­missed such talk as ru­mor, and de­clined to com­ment for this story. Face­book has a hard­ware team led by Regina Du­gan, a for­mer di­rec­tor of the De­fense Ad­vanced Re­search Pro­jects Agency — DARPA — the US agency tasked with iden­ti­fy­ing and fund­ing break­through tech­nolo­gies for na­tional se­cu­rity.

Du­gan pre­vi­ously headed ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy pro­jects at Google, which dab­bled with mod­u­lar phones in a pro­ject call Ara. Google tested Ara but gave up on the pro­ject late last year.

Face­book in April launched a mis­sion to sync smart­phone cam­eras’ win­dows with aug­mented re­al­ity, fo­cus­ing on what peo­ple have in hand in­stead of wait­ing for high tech eye­wear.

While kick­ing off an an­nual de­vel­op­ers con­fer­ence in the heart of Sil­i­con Val­ley, chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Zucker­berg called smart­phone cam­eras an ini­tial and promis­ing plat­form for aug­mented-re­al­ity fea­tures in ap­pli­ca­tions tai­lored to synch with the so­cial net­work. “I am con­fi­dent now we are go­ing to push this aug­mented-re­al­ity plat­form for­ward,” Zucker­berg said. “We are go­ing to make the cam­era the first main­stream aug­mented-re­al­ity plat­form.” Pre­vi­ously, Face­book had been fo­cused strongly on vir­tual re­al­ity as the next big com­put­ing plat­form, par­tic­u­larly us­ing Rift head­gear made by its Ocu­lus unit. —AFP

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