Regina Dugan, formerly Google Vice President of Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP), has been hired by Facebook. She is going to head up the hardware division which at Facebook is known as the “Building 8”. Facebook commented that Dugan’s department was going to start research and help develop technologies that would be substantial in the fluid blending of physical and digital worlds.
Dugan wrote in a Facebook post that the Building 8 project would help her and give her an opportunity to do what she loved the most, which is tech-infused with a sense of humanity. “Audacious science delivered at scale in products that feel almost magic“. Dugan has had quite a reputable career. Before she joined the Google ATAP team, she was employed as the Director of the DARPA program, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The move seems to signify that Facebook is planning to create its own moonshots. The moonshots are in the X and ATAP divisions of ALPHABET, which is Google’s parent company. Division C includes the self-driving cars, Wifi weather balloons, drone deliveries, and some other widely publicized moonshots. While the ATAP project at Google generally focuses on lower projects than those at X. Some of its projects include the Project Ara smartphone, and the Project Tango, a computer vision/augmented reality platform.
The focus of the ATAP group on computers suggest that Dugan will probably pick up in that area on Facebook. That means developing the AR and VR technologies. This is in line with the Facebook CEO’s grand plan to make Oculus a social platform within VR worlds. In October last year, at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit, Mr. Zuckerberg said that the AR platform was something that Facebook had been developing, but they were still a long way out. To help with the AR enhanced selfies, Facebook purchased photo manipulation app MSQRD earlier this year.
Dugan’s move is clearly a win for Facebook, though it is a tectonic plate changing move is highly doubtful. This is mostly because the two heavy giants generate most of their income from advertisements. But if the VR and AR technology interest continues to rise, then Facebook might just hold the edge.