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The head of Facebook’s experimental lab, Regina Dugan, is leaving the company, offering little explanation as to why. So, what happens to projects being developed inside Building 8, especially the proposed mind-reading device?
( Regina Dugan | Facebook )
Facebook’s experimental hardware laboratory, Building 8, is going to lose a key person. Regina Dugan, the lab’s head, has announced that she’s leaving the company after just 18 months.
Regina Dugan Leaves Facebook’s Building 8
Dugan announced her exit plans on Tuesday, Oct. 17, and in a new Facebook post she explains why, saying she’ll be leaving the company to focus on a new endeavor, but will remain working with Facebook’s leadership over the next several months to help with a smooth transition into 2018.
“This was a difficult decision for me. Together, we have already done so much good work. And there are many people that I will miss, personally, and professionally,” wrote Dugan.
What remains unclear is who’ll occupy Dugan’s position once she’s gone. Facebook recently promoted Andrew Bosworth to be in charge of all the company’s hardware projects, but that includes Oculus-branded hardware and peripherals, not just Building 8.
Dugan claims she feels that there’s a “tidal shift” occurring in Silicon Valley, and that people like her inside the industry now have greater responsibilities than ever before. She says the timing of her exit “feels right,” and she’s now looking forward to what’s next and thinking about “new ways to contribute in times of disruption.”
News of Dugan coming to Facebook in early 2016 made headlines, not only because it signaled Facebook’s evident interest in developing its own hardware, but also because Dugan herself has quite a resume.
What Has Regina Dugan Been Up To?
Dugan was the head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Products division, which, during her time there, produced innovations such as modular smartphones, apparel equipped with micro-sensors, and Google’s highly sophisticated augmented reality platform, Tango. But before joining Google, Dugan was the director of DARPA, which develops new technology for the U.S. military.
Dugan’s most notable project inside Building 8 was something called “Silent Voice First,” which sought to allow computers to read users’ mind, announced back in April during the company’s F8 developer conference. Theoretically, a device like that could allow anyone to post to Facebook without using their hands — and most importantly — it could help people with physical or mobility impairments. Really, though — a mind-reading device, not to mention one that’s powered and run by Facebook? Crazy.
What Happens To Facebook’s Mind Reading Device?
It’s still not clear exactly why Dugan is leaving Facebook’s experimental hardware research lab, but Building 8 seems on track to unveil exciting new things next year. As Business Insider reports, one of the first projects from the lab will be revealed in 2018, reportedly somehow related to drones, since it’s being headed by drone expert Frank Dellaert.
As for the mind-reading device, Recode reports that it will still “continue unchanged,” according to a tweet by Bosworth, but that’s still a little vague. Facebook has yet to offer more details about that device’s development stage, and now, without Dugan in the lead, the fate of the device seems uncertain.
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