Key Highlights from The Facebook F8 Developer Conference
On Tuesday, April 18th Facebook began its annual developer conference F8. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerburg and his executive team made a lot of announcements unveiling new products and software aimed at exciting the developer community. Facebook’s CEO revealed its 10-year road map, showing us the long term goals and visions of the company.
Facebook is not entirely a social media company anymore: Zuckerburg plans to extend its company’s vision beyond its notorious social media platform to one that aims to lead the movement of augmented reality and artificial intelligence.
Facebook Launches It’s Open Sourced Augmented Reality Platform
The first day of the conference focused heavily on its new augmented reality (AR) technology. Many people are criticizing Facebook for mimicking Snapchat’s similar photo editing features like filters, text editor, and stickers but Zuckerburg wanted people to be familiar with the layout and look of the software in order to roll out the future technology. He wants to shift Facebook’s users from mostly sharing text and stories to photo and video by “making the camera the first mainstream augmented reality platform” and implementing filters was the first step into slowly integrating the augmented reality platform into Facebook.
Facebook released the beta version of proprietary software that is crucial to mainstreaming augmented reality, AR studios. This software simplifies the creation process of animated masks and interactive effects over photos and videos. Facebook will now be open sourcing the creative aspect of artificial intelligence to the public. Because AR Studio doesn’t require coding to create and upload content, it will allow for people with no coding experience to create animations, interactive effects, and filters that respond to actual motion and data; there are so many possibilities for AR beyond adding animated filters over our selfies. The possibilities include leaving a virtual note at restaurants for your friends to see or playing a game of chess with a friend in virtual reality, these features are not all that far away. Check out the video to see all the possibilities of AR.
Messenger Launches Chat Extensions and Upgraded Bots
Facebook’s Messenger app got a big makeover this week with the additions of Chat Extensions. The extensions are in-app integrations allowing you to book a hotel, create a Spotify playlist or watch sports play-by-play without ever leaving the Messenger app. As social beings, it’s in our nature to share our day-to-day with others, and these Chat Extensions within Messenger allow us to do just that. Other companies like the Food Network and WSJ will soon be integrating features that allow you to share recipes and even articles with your friends.
A discovery tab was also created that allows users to see their recently used bots, browse categories, and see trending experiences. Bots are an automated service for businesses aimed to take over the sales and customer service functions on Messenger. Users will be able to view what the bot does before starting a conversation with one. During F8 it was also revealed that Smart Replies have been integrated into bots, allowing them to answer FAQ’s automatically. Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) scans the question, communicates that question to the bot, which then provides the correct answer to the customer’s question. As the software advances businesses can use these bots to advance customer service, allowing them to save time and money.
Another exciting announcement made was that Facebook will be expanding M, Facebook’s AI software. M can now scan your conversations and suggest messenger features use. For example, if you are on Facebook Messenger talking about ordering food with a friend, M will suggest a bot that offers food delivery. Due to the high amount of messaging apps, Facebook’s new chat extensions and upgraded bots system will drive more people to use this platform than before, because of its superior AI software and recommended features. Their constant innovation and creation of new technology keep them a step ahead of other social media platforms.
Facebook Creates The First Social VR Platform:
Also on day one the company introduced Facebook Spaces, a goofy and fun social VR platform and launched its beta program. Facebook is merging its virtual and augmented reality technology with its core vision of connecting people together. By connecting your Facebook account to your Oculus Rift VR headset, you and your friends can chat, draw, and watch 360 videos with one another in a virtual environment. For now, it is only available on the Oculus Rift, but it will soon be expanding to other VR headsets. Facebook seems to be stepping out of its social media comfort zone, into immersive technology that is incredibly forward thinking. Spaces are just the first step to adding human emotion and interaction into the virtual reality world.
The Creation of Brain-To-Computer Interfaces:
Lastly, let’s talk about what happened during day two of F8.Facebook went a little outside the box in an attempt to “wow” attendees by showcasing new projects and technologies that are a bit more unconventional and far-fetched. A project lead by Regina Dugan demonstrates the possibility of humans becoming the machine by creating and placing software inside our bodies that would allow the software to interact with our thoughts. The idea of this seems out of reach, but Dugan is breaking new ground. The idea is that an array of electrodes the size of a pea would be surgically implanted in the part of the brain that controls your motor functions. This theory was tested and the device was implanted in a woman’s brain who was diagnosed with ALS. The electrodes recorded her neurons firing when she thought about moving the cursor, and then the software in those pea sized electrodes learns to move it for her. She then proceeds to move the computer mouse with her thoughts, clicking on letters to form sentences and was typing up to 8 words per minute.
All of the new technology that was reviled at F8 is without a doubt, leading the trend of virtual and augmented reality. Facebook is slowly branching out of its social media based comfort zone. We can’t wait to see where this new technology takes us, and with augmented reality, we know the possibilities are endless.
About Michael Waverka
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