Doing Business | IT & Technologies

April 14, 2016

Facebook's Biggest Product Announcements From F8 Conference

Facebook's annual F8 conference is like looking into a crystal ball to see what Facebook will look like later this year or even a decade from now.

Today marks the second and final day of the conference in San Francisco. Although it's geared toward developers, F8 often yields new insight about the future direction of Facebook.

Chat Bots

Get ready to make friends with a bunch of chat bots.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Messenger Platform at the start of the company's annual F8 developer's conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. The new service is a framework powered by artificial intelligence, allowing developers to build chat bots that can communicate one on one with users in a conversational tone. The more use, the more personalized a bot can be in serving a user.

Zuckerberg showed how people can use the 1-800-FLOWERS chat bot to find the perfect bouquet and have it sent, all without leaving Messenger.

"You probably interact with dozens of businesses every day ... but I’ve never met anyone who likes calling a business and no one wants to install an app for every business or service they want to interact with," Zuckerberg said.

Social VR

Imagine being able to interact with someone, no matter where they are in the world, through virtual reality. Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer demonstrated how he was able to join Michael Booth, a leader of the social VR team, in the same virtual space as the duo toured London together. They even took a VR selfie together of their avatars and posted it to Facebook.

Live Video

Facebook is opening up its API for live video -- that's application program interface, basically the foundation that makes it easier to develop a program -- so users can stream live video from various objects. Zuckerberg demonstrated this development by showing live video being streamed to Facebook from a drone that flew in the auditorium.

Account Kit

What if you didn't have to deal with a password? Account Kit will give users the choice to log into new apps using just a phone number or email address. The new feature could help developers reach new audiences with their apps, according to Facebook.

Aquila

Facebook's internet-beaming drone made its debut at F8 last year, but Zuckerberg brought it up again when discussing Facebook's ten-year roadmap and his ambition to help bring connectivity to the 4 billion people around the world who live without it.

"If you had told me Facebook was going to build a plane I would have told you you were crazy," he said. The idea is for Aquila, which Zuckerberg said weighs less than a small car, will fly at an altitude of 60,000 feet and stay airborne for several months at a time.

Artificial Intelligence

Facebook's AI is smart enough to describe photos to visually impaired people, an update that was rolled out earlier this month. Zuckerberg said the company's AI technology is capable of doing everything from organizing a person's Newsfeed to analyzing a photo of a mole to determine if it could be cancerous.

Connectivity Lab

Zuckerberg isn’t stopping at drones in his mission to connect the world. Facebook’s Connectivity Lab announced two new ground-based systems for boosting internet access.

Terragraph is a wireless system that will be deployed in urban areas. It’s scheduled to be deployed in “small nodes” on “urban furniture,” according to Facebook. It will debut in its first test market of San Jose, California, later this year.

A second solution, called ARIES, is a proof-of-concept research project designed to cover vast areas with low population density.

Text by ABC News
 

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