A new report outlines Facebook’s struggles to develop its own hardware

Many companies establish their own secret divisions to develop new devices and technologies. There's the Skunkworks division of Lockheed Martin, which produced the spy plane U-2 and the Blackbird SR-71. Apple gathered a secret work group to develop the iPhone. Facebook established its own division as it delved into hardware in recent years. A new report from CNBC describes the drama behind the company's secret hardware division, Building 8, and how he struggled to develop his own hardware to compete with Amazon and Google.

Building 8 is the division where Facebook has worked on some of its extravagant ideas, such as a system that would allow users to write with their thoughts, modular smartphones and, ultimately, a video calling device that would eventually become the portal. In 2015, Facebook brought former DARPA technologist and Google Regina Dugan to lead the division, but ended up leaving after only 18 months at work. Facebook finally dissolved the hardware group a year later, in December 2018, and moved its staff and projects to other parts of the company.

The CNBC report analyzes the rise and fall of Building 8, the challenges it brought to Facebook, and why the company broke up, revealing some interesting details about the issue along the way. device type shortly after Amazon launched its Echo speakers, and Dugan joined to help the company realize some of its hardware ideas. One of the projects of a predecessor of the Portal called "Little Foot", an iPad that moved towards a person in a room. As Facebook looked more and more towards the video, the Building 8 team began to develop it as a video chat device. CNBC says they experimented with a variety of sizes, including the size of a large television, and that "the ideal experience would be a wall-to-ceiling product."

The report notes that The reserved nature of building 8 caused some resentment between this and other divisions within the company. I had a huge budget, and when selected members of Facebook staff were invited to visit, to see the first prototypes, such as the Portal, their brain reading devices and an AR project called Sequoia Project (which looked like "computers Hologram type in Movies of & # 39; Iron Man & # 39;), they were assigned an escort.These visitors were invited to Building 8 with a metal slab, which was machined on site in a bottle opener when they arrived. they were handed a bottle of beer.

Apparently other problems arose with the timeline set by Facebook for some devices Hardware: The company apparently wanted Building 8 to send its first product in a year, something that Facebook disputed with CNBC . being the reason for Dugan's departure from the company, and when Facebook placed Andrew "Boz" Bosworth in charge of his hardware efforts, she left months later.

The problems did not stop there. Former employees told CNBC that "when it came to technological decisions, Bosworth offered little direction." On top of that, Facebook was shaken by a privacy scandal in March 2018, which led it to delay the launch of the Portal, and "rethink the design." The device was finally announced last October and launched in November. In December, the building 8 team changed its name and its projects moved to other divisions.

Despite that turmoil, Facebook is still working on a variety of devices. He is apparently working on a new version of the Portal, which includes a rumored device called "Ripley," which is apparently a camera that can be mounted on a television, making it the largest Portal devices that the company initially thought of. It is rumored that the company is talking to streaming services like Disney and Netflix about combining their services with the device.

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