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article imageFacebook to unveil 'mind-reading device' next month

By James Walker     Mar 20, 2017 in Technology
Facebook is reportedly working on a "mind-reading device" as one of a number of experimental hardware projects ongoing in secrecy at the social network. The company could be planning to unveil a prototype next month, creating a new form of social media.
Business Insider managed to speak to people in connection with Facebook's mysterious "Building 8," revealing some of what's going on inside. Building 8 is the company's experimental hardware development lab, akin to Google's X. The company is said to have four projects currently in the pipeline, focused primarily on augmented reality.
Telepathic social networking
Facebook is also working on "science fiction-like" mind-scanning tech that could be radically new. The company is building an interface between the brain and computers that could let you control devices using your thoughts. Details are on the highly elusive project are virtually non-existent. However, the product could be a realisation of a concept social network that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed last year.
Samsung s Entrim 4D headset adds a sense of direction and speed to virtual reality content  keeping ...
Samsung's Entrim 4D headset adds a sense of direction and speed to virtual reality content, keeping the brain active.
In May, Zuckerberg talked of "some pretty crazy brain research" that could enable the creation of a social network based around telepathic thoughts. Rather than share textual status updates, photos and videos, you could upload actual thoughts for others to experience. These would be played back through a headset that sounds similar to the one in development at Building 8.
"You're going to just be able to capture a thought, what you're thinking or feeling in kind of its ideal and perfect form in your head, and be able to share that with the world in a format where they can get that," The Independent reported Zuckerberg said during the Q&A session.
Shopping in augmented reality
Business Insider also detailed one of Building 8's other major projects. Facebook is reportedly diving head-first into augmented reality after seeing only modest success with virtual reality. The company appears to have realised the benefits of AR over VR, already being pitched by Microsoft and Magic Leap.
Microsoft HoloLens: Transforming world with holograms.
Microsoft HoloLens: Transforming world with holograms.
© Microsoft
Facebook wants to use augmented reality to revolutionise shopping experiences. Recent job openings include positions for people to lead "go-to-market" and retail roles, based around "ground up shopping experiences" using Facebook hardware.
The company is clearly building a device it thinks will integrate into next-generation retail spaces. Although nothing is certain, it's likely augmented reality is the focus here, in-line with other industry players.
Facebook will aim to bring something new to the idea through its existing social network. Since people like to share shopping experiences, it'll be able to offer a new way to do this by uploading videos of augmented reality experiences. By targeting shoppers it could also convert more people to AR than it has managed with the gaming-focused Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
"Not like a hobby"
The sun rises behind the entrance sign to Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park before the company s I...
The sun rises behind the entrance sign to Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park before the company's IPO launch,
� Beck Diefenbach / Reuters, Reuters
According to Business Insider, Building 8 is a serious effort for Facebook and not "like a hobby." Although the tech is experimental, Facebook believes it has a place in its future portfolio. Some projects may be scrapped or refocused along the way but the company is aiming to eventually bring its work to the public markets.
Facebook could provide its first glimpse into Building 8 next month. The company is reportedly planning to give its secretive hardware team "a key role" in its F8 developers conference next month, perhaps using the time to introduce the next-gen products under development in its labs.
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