Facebook wants to take over the world, and it’s gonna use some pretty awesome, heavy weaponry to do it. Lasers to be exact. Yep, Facebook is determined to get every living soul online and hooked into its social network so it can force yet more ads down people’s throats, and it’s dreamed up quite a plan to make this happen.
Facebook embarked on this ambitious quest last year, when it announced the creation of its Internet.org project along with notable companies like Samsung and Nokia, as well as organizations like NASA. But while its announcement was grandiose, little progress has been made in actually delivering connectivity to those parts of the world that aren’t yet online.
This lack of progress is understandable when one considers that in many parts of the world, the infrastructure to get people online is virtually non-existent. It seems there just isn’t enough fiber-optic cable to go around, so what’s Facebook and its pals going to do about it? Why, they’ve come up with a bunch of wacky new ideas, including internet-delivering drones, satellites and new laser-based technology.
“Today, we’re sharing some details of the work Facebook’s Connectivity Lab is doing to build drones, satellites and lasers to deliver the internet to everyone,” said Mark Zuckerberg in a blog post.
The Connectivity Lab is Facebook’s newly assembled team of boffins who’ve been tasked with finding a way to connect the website’s next five billion users to the world wide web. The project was revealed on Thursday, and supposedly uses “the same engineering talent behind Facebook’s infrastructure team and the Open Compute Project,” according to a statement by the social media giant.
“Connecting the whole world will require inventing new technology,” continued Zuckerberg in his post. “That’s what our Connectivity Lab focuses on, and there’s a lot more exciting work to do here.”
And that work will apparently involve solar-powered drones buzzing overhead, as well as satellites being launched into orbit loaded with communications gear to relay web access to some of the world’s most remote areas. The plan also calls for new laser-based technologies as Facebook attempts to build a new high-bandwidth transmission network. This is where NASA comes in – a number of experts that previously worked in its Jet Propulsion Laboratory and its Ames Research Center, as well as specialists from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, have all joined the project.
Key to all of this is the development of laser-based transmission technologies that’ll help to link Facebook’s proposed fleet of low-flying drones.
“We’re looking for some fantastic people in aerodynamics, physics, communications systems, to really help us solve this problem together,” Yael Maguire, a member of the Connectivity Lab, explained in a video on the Internet.org site.
Facebook is highly motivated to get the rest of the world online and entice more people into its billion-strong social media network, because virtually all of its money comes from advertising – the more people see its ads, the more cash it makes. But whether it makes money or not, Facebook’s efforts will surely benefit millions of people around the world if they can make it happen.
Just like Google with its internet-delivering hot air balloons, Facebook’s drones are a long term, pie-in-the-sky notion at the moment. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen one day – as we saw this week with its acquisition of Oculus VR, Facebook is clearly gearing up for a vastly different future.
So if you were afraid Google was becoming Skynet, at least there’s a chance Facebook and its drones might give it a run for its money :)