When people think Facebook, they think social media. In reality, the company has several ambitious projects in the works that most people don’t even know about. Here are the top five.
1. Facebook wants your DNA
The company owns your life story–now it wants your family history. While technically not directly controlled by the company, a Facebook app aimed at collecting DNA certainly has the social media king’s stamp of approval and sounds like something it might want for itself when the time is right.
Genes for Good is an app made by researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and the University of Colorado Boulder. Participants can learn important information about themselves while giving researchers the opportunity to make advances in the field of genetics.
All they need is a sample of your saliva, and the results of testing are returned free of charge. How much longer before we can build a world-wide family tree using DNA?
2. Oculus VR, Inc. now belongs to Facebook
Facebook owns the best known virtual reality technology, Oculus, through a curious acquisition it made in 2014 for $2 billion. We still aren’t quite sure why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the deal, but here’s what he had to say:
“Just like we capture photos and videos today and then share them on the Internet to let others experience them too, we’ll be able to capture whole 3D scenes and create new environments and then share those with people as well. It will be pretty wild.”
Maybe Oculus Rift’s awesomeness was all he needed. Facebook is also bringing 3D video support to its News Feed, so expect some big changes soon.
3. Facial Recognition
The 2012 acquisition of a facial recognition company makes more sense. When users upload photos, Facebook wants to know who people are without forcing you to tag manually. This could also help Facebook more accurately suggest friends for people who aren’t yet connected. Facebook’s DeepFace system will tell you with 97% accuracy if two pictures are of the same person. Creepy or convenient?
4. Speech Recognition
This 2015 acquisition might raise a few more eyebrows. Why on earth does Facebook need to recognize your voice? Part of the reason has to do with speech-to-text input for smart devices. If Facebook can make texting more efficient, then maybe people will be more likely to use the feature.
5) Artificial Intelligence
The answer might be more complicated than that. When you take a look at the sum of its parts, Facebook is obviously hungry for companies and individuals capable of helping it in its quest for artificial intelligence. Its AI lab seeks to first understand intelligence with the goal of eventually using machine intelligence to sift through the mountains of data Facebook users upload to the site each day.
What else is Facebook after?
You probably already know this, but the company plans to use solar-powered drones to beam internet connectivity to the developing world. With only half the world currently online, the internet represents the opportunity for massive growth.
If you’d like a more comprehensive list of all Facebook acquisitions since 2006, then click here.