Facebook acquires startup Nascent Objects in hardware push
Tue 20 Sep 2016
Facebook has acquired modular electronics startup Nascent Objects in a bid to boost production at its top-secret hardware lab, Building 8.
The modular consumer gadgets platform builds software to accelerate manufacturing processes, including 3D printing and circuitry. The Bay Area-based startup claims on its website that its technology allows developers to take products from concept to shipping in just a few weeks – at a considerably faster, and cheaper rate than traditional methods.
Regina Dugan, head of Facebook’s R&D hardware lab Building 8 wrote in a video post that Nascent Objects would be joining the social network to create new hardware ‘at a speed that’s more like software.’
Dugan, a former DARPA and Google ATAP director, took the lead at Building 8 in April. While little detail had been revealed about the project, in August, Facebook offered a glimpse inside the new 22,000 sq.ft ‘Area 404’ manufacturing space at its Menlo Park campus. The Building 8 team has since collaborated with the Connectivity Lab, Oculus, data server projects and other infrastructure teams.
Several projects have been made public, including hardware research around the solar-powered Wi-Fi drone Aquila, which has been designed to beam out free internet access in remote areas.
It is expected that Nascent Objects founder and CEO Baback Elmeih will join Facebook following the acquisition, alongside other ‘key members’ of the small startup.
Elmeih commented on the website statement that his company is ‘excited to build products that can open the world to everyone and create on a scale we couldn’t have imagined before.’
While highly-anticipated, previous modular electronics projects have not fared particularly well. The idea of adding and removing components such as cameras, batteries, and storage, is a popular one but has never amounted to anything much beyond prototyping. One such attempt, Google’s Project Ara, aimed to build reconfigurable smartphones but was pulled by its parent company earlier this month.