All the crazy-ambitious products Facebook’s working on besides its social network

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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Facebook

Facebook has big ambitions.

Over the last few years, the company has launched a handful projects and aspirations that go far beyond its namesake social networking feed of photos, status updates and news articles.

Although Facebook’s arch-rival Google was the first internet company to develop ambitious so-called “moonshot” projects, such as self-driving cars, Facebook is quickly amassing a large collection of its own ambitious initiatives.

Here are some of the big “moonshots” that Facebook is working on:


The most recent development is also the most secretive: Facebook just launched a new skunkworks division called Building 8 for rapid-fire product development.

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Facebook / Mark Zuckerberg

The company plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into Building 8 in the next few years, and poached high-profile Google exec Regina Dugan to lead the efforts.

The company’s looking for”slightly impatient” individuals “willing to face down their fear of failure to accomplish bold things,” though we don’t know yet exactly what kind of hardware and software will eventually see the light of day.


Meanwhile, some of Facebook’s other major hardware efforts are already out in the open. Like its solar-powered drone, Aquila.

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Facebook

The aircraft, which is still in its prototype phase, will be able to stay aloft for months and will use lasers to deliver high-speed internet to remote regions.

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Facebook

Learn more about Aquila.


Aquila is part of Facebook’s connectivity-centric Internet.org efforts, which dovetail with the Telecom Infra Project, its plan to redesign telecommunications infrastructure.

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Facebook

Facebook recently introduced two projects within this initiative: Terragraph and ARIES.


Terragraph is an experimental wireless system that Facebook is currently testing at its headquarters which it says can deliver gigabit internet speeds to dense urban areas at a fraction of the cost of fiber. With this system, small 60GHz boxes (“nodes”) would be installed around a city as internet access points:

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Facebook

Facebook has also built a test platform called ARIES (Antenna Radio Integration for Efficiency in Spectrum) that would make radio towers in rural areas more efficient.

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Business Insider

Overall, Facebook isn’t trying to deploy all these networks itself, but show the industry that it’s possible to make connectivity ten times faster and ten times cheaper.

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Facebook

Learn more about the Telecom Infra Project.


Facebook’s also working on virtual and augmented reality. In the short-term, it has already launched the VR headsets Oculus Rift and GearVR which come with a selection of games…

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Facebook/Tech Insider

But Facebook’s goal isn’t just to make you feel like you’re really shooting aliens in outer space. The company hopes to perfect “social VR,” where regular people can don a headset and truly feel like they’re together in the same place.

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Facebook

Learn more about social VR here.


One of the biggest tech challenges of this is translating very subtle human signals into the virtual space. Facebook’s Oculus research team is currently conducting studies around how to better capture movement.

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Facebook

Although Facebook has only released a virtual reality device as of now, it also has its sights set on *augmented* reality, which overlays the real world with digital imagery. It envisions creating an AR wearable that looks like a normal pair of glasses.

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Facebok

“A lot of the things we think about today as a physical display, like a TV, will be just be a $1 app in the AR app store,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently said on stage.


A third area of focus for Facebook is for machine learning and artificial intelligence.

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Facebook

Right now, the social network is using AI to serve you better News Feed posts, but because it open sources its deep-learning technology, making it free and available to other companies, it hopes that its research will also influence areas like cancer research.

Learn more about Facebook’s efforts here.


One of the company’s AI moonshots is to create a super-charged virtual assistant called M that will be like giving every Facebook user a personal secretary.

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Shutterstock

Facebook is still a long way away from making this dream a reality, but, in the meantime, it’s also enabling businesses to build their own chatbots with its technology. Facebook sees a future where you’ll never have to contact a business on the phone or download new apps.


All these ambitions go far *beyond* the Big Blue App, but they also all lead into a future where the Facebook ecosystem reaches everyone, everywhere.

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Facebook