Photo: Flickr user Maurizio Pesce

Facebook’s F8 developer conference kicked off today, live streamed around the world, and already there have been some huge announcements.

Dressed in trademark jeans and t-shirt Mark Zuckerberg outlined Facebook’s plans and it is very clear that the company has been aiming higher and bigger. No more are we told about simple newsfeed re-designs like we were in the conference’s early days. Already we’ve heard about a brand new Messenger chat bot platform, a 3D camera, a solar-powered WiFi plane, and even a satellite. Other ‘social’ platforms take note.

Here’s some of the main things we learned from the F8 Conference opening day.

Facebook Launches a chatbot platform for Messenger

The age of the bots is now beginning. Facebook announced that developers will now be able to create bots for it’s messenger service. This is really interesting for businesses as Facebook believes its messenger app can become a primary channel for customers to reach businesses. Facebook sees it’s messaging app replacing many business phone numbers with a mix of A.I. and human interaction. Zuckerberg demonstrated this by showing how you could buy from 1-800-FLOWERS using conversational language through it’s messaging bots.

Facebook will now let any camera stream to Facebook LIVE

Any live event these days just seems incomplete without a drone and F8 was not going to be the exception. Flying in from the side of the stage, the drone was there to launch an API for Facebook’s live streaming video. The API will enable developers to build live Facebook video right into their apps. As exciting as drones are, Zuckerberg promoted that LIVE is already amassing huge audiences and this opening up of the API will allow any content to piped into Live. TV broadcasters take note.

Facebook continues to develop VR and Augmented Reality

acebook continues to develop a host of great augmented reality and VR experiences for Occulus Rift. But we got a glimpse today of where Mark Zuckerberg sees this progress heading. The aim is that the bulkier headsets currently manufactured will begin to be replaced by devices that look more like regular glasses. We know that Google is still experimenting with its Glass platform, may we see something similar from Facebook in the near future?

Introducing Facebook Surround 360 – Open source 3D camera

You will have seen the increase of 3D videos on YouTube etc., however Facebook is lagging behind in the amount of 3D videos on its platform and wants to change this. The unveiled reference design for Facebook Surround 360, a flying saucer shaped 3D camera, is aimed directly at doing that. Surround 360 uses a 17-camera array and accompanying web-based software to capture images in 360 degrees and automatically render them. Facebook hopes to release this reference design as an open source project on GitHub soon.

Facebook is launching a satellite

Facebook is moving forward with its plans to connect the rest of the world to the internet. Last year the company revealed it was already using satellites to beam broadband internet to parts of the world. Today Mark Zuckerberg revealed the next phase of the plans for Internet.org with the announcement that they will be launching their own internet beaming satellite in the next few months. This satellite will be beaming internet directly to sub-Saharan Africa.

Facebook are still building solar powered planes

Although Facebook have talked about their development of solar powered planes to beam internet before, we got an update on this today at the F8 Conference. Facebook is still building a giant, unmanned, solar-powered plane, which will beam internet down to people who need it the most. The company has plans to have a “fleet” of them in the skies one day. Zuckerberg touted some new photos of the plane in development along with showing the audience one of the planes carbon fibre engines.

 

 

 

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