Brain-scanning tech could be Facebook's next big thing

It's best known as the world's largest social network, but Facebook is no stranger to hardware. It owns the Oculus virtual reality platform and has dabbled in phones too, but has always partnered with or purchased a hardware company to get its name alongside physical consumer tech.

However, it now seems that Facebook is ready to reveal its own gadgetry beyond the 'Like' button, with a number of hardware interests waiting in the wings.

According to Business Insider sources, the fruits of Facebook's hardware-focused Building 8 team are to be shown off next month at Facebook's F8 conference. And the wares could be quite varied and unexpected.

Brains, drones and more

Business Insider's source points most readily at an augmented reality device. Building 8 team lead Regina Dugan, former head of Google's advanced projects division, has posted online to this effect, speaking of "hardware advances" that could allow people to connect when not physically in the same room – suggesting a system that would make it seem your chums or workmates were in the same space as you.

There are also whispers surrounding a brain-scanning technology, while new staff hires seem to suggest Facebook is once again looking at drones, perhaps beyond the bounds of its Aquila internet-providing UAV. Finally, there's also talk of a Facebook-developed medical device in the works, with one team being led by a Stanford cardiologist. 

With virtual reality headsets like its Rift being critically well received but lacking a huge consumer market, it seems Facebook is ready to expand its interests into spaces more commonly associated with the business sector. This year's F8 conference could be the greatest insight yet into Zuckerberg's long-term plans for Facebook as a result.

Gerald Lynch

Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.