Facebook unveiled a hardware lab last Thursday. Called Area 404, it is a 22,000 square foot in Menlo Park California. Well just in case you were wondering, the hardware in this case is not really about smartphones but will focus more on Facebook’s ten year plan to create more machines and systems to connect the world as it has done recently with the successful test of Aquila; its solar powered drone for internet service beaming. The choice of name itself comes from the 404 message you receive when you try to access a web page that can’t be found. Facebook engineers wanted a space just like that which couldn’t be found until now and thank God they explained that before some of us begin think the Area 51 way in Nevada which conspiracy theorist have said houses aliens.
“This new 22,000-square-foot lab is located in our Menlo Park office, and it’s outfitted with state-of-the-art machine tools and test equipment. With this new space, we can now handle the majority of our modeling, prototyping, and failure analysis in-house, decreasing each iteration of the development cycle from weeks to days. Even more important, the space has room for all teams, with more than 50 workbenches in the main area. Connectivity Lab, Oculus, Building 8, and our Infrastructure teams can now work collaboratively in the same space, learning from one another as they build.”
This won’t be Facebook’s first attempt at hardware. It bought virtual reality company Oculus two years ago for $2b/720b Naira in today’s value in addition to a drone team it has in Somerset England which successfully tested a drone last year. The social media giant is no longer just an online friends’ connection platform but has gradually transformed into a tech giant that has come to challenge the likes of Microsoft and Google especially. Facebook is now the fifth biggest company in the US after is declared a revenue of $6.44b/2.3tr Naira in the second quarter of this year. Facebook reportedly spent $4.8b on research last year which is almost double what it spent in the previous year.
Google has a similar lab called X lab which is responsible for projects like the self driving cars.