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Facebook’s F8 Conference

April 14, 2016 - Fifteen

Earlier this week, Mark Zuckerberg strode onto the stage at the F8 conference and declared that he was going to do something different, that he was going to walk us all through the roadmap for Facebook for the next 10 years. Mark then went on to describe how we can all underestimate where the Internet will be in 10 years, and how far we will all advance technologically. We are talking about hugely advanced artificial technology, virtual and augmented reality, etc.

As he describes and explains Facebook’s mission of connecting us all together as one big global community, you can’t help but notice Zuckerberg’s obvious dig at Donald Trump. He said: “I’m starting to see people and nations turning inward against this idea of a connected world. I hear fearful voices talking about building walls… It takes courage to choose hope over fear.”

We agree with Mark that we are all better off as one big global community, but let’s get down to brass tacks and look at what’s in the pipeline for Facebook.

During his presentation, he referenced massively innovative projects that Facebook have been responsible for, such as their ‘Anquila’ solar-powered drones for internet access. Zuckerberg said, “If you had told me Facebook was going to build a plane, I would have told you that you were crazy,” he said. The plane, which he said “weighs less than a small car”, will fly at 60,000ft (twice the height of commercial airliners) and be able to stay airborne for several months at a time. Which gives you some insight into what Facebook are getting up to behind the scenes.

However the majority of hype around the conference was over ‘chat bots’.

What are chat bots? They’re computer programmes with artificial intelligence, which can mimic real-time conversation with people. Now this all sounds very ‘Star Trek’, but the reality is that soon we could be having actual conversations over Messenger; purchasing, gathering information, booking tickets, and more, with these chat bots. Facebook Messenger is used by 900 million people a month, and 50 million businesses, so the potential for widespread implementation of these chat bots is huge, especially for likes of quick response companies such as taxis on a night out. In many ways, this move towards chat bots is going to mean the end for individual apps, with chat bots in people’s preferred messaging tool taking over other interactions.

The other focal point of the conference was virtual reality, and the part that has yet to play in most of our lives. Facebook-owned Oculus Rift announced that they will launch touch controllers allowing the user to touch and move objects in virtual applications, proving that we are moving towards that clip in Iron Man where he builds his suit in a kind of holographic computer. The ambition is to reach a point where Facebook puts the person in a photo, allowing them to move about the photo as if they were there. To achieve this, Oculus Rift are developing 360-degree cameras, and are looking to push forward with Facebook’s live feature to really enhance live broadcasting.

Finally, Zuckerberg brought out a pair of augmented reality glasses. Not a futuristic pair of specs that make you look like this guy ?

Cyclops Xmen

But a darker rimmed normal pair of glasses. This will give users the opportunity to overlay augmented reality objects on real objects. The potential for this new technology is huge, but it is a long way off till we are all walking around half in this world and half in the virtual.

Sound like magic? You can hear it from the ‘horses mouth’ on Facebook’s developer page.

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