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Facebook Hires Google Exec. Regina Dugan to Develop Hardware Products

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Regina Dugan

Regina Dugan, Former Google Executive

In a major hiring coup, Facebook on Wednesday announced it has hired Regina Dugan, who previously led Google's Advanced Technologies and Projects Group.

Regina Dugan helped developing Google initiatives such as Project Tango, 3-D mapping capability for mobile devices, Project Ara, Tools for creating modular smartphones, and Smart fabrics wired with electronics.

At Facebook, Dugan will head a new research lab called Building 8, which is dedicated to developing hardware products based on its software for the social platform. (The name Building 8 refers to the number of letters in Facebook and not any building on the company’s campus.) She will be reporting to the company's Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer.

The new research lab will help launch Zuckerberg's 10-year vision for the company that was outlined at its annual F8 developer conference this week, including artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and bringing Internet access to billions of people around the world.

Dugan, also a former director of the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon research lab known as Darpa, will be bringing in DARPA-style breakthrough development combining products and science to Facebook, Zuckerberg said in a Web post. This method is distinguished by vigorous, fixed timelines, ample use of partnerships with universities, large and small businesses, and logical objectives for shipping products at scale.

The Menlo Park, the Calif-based company promised to commit hundreds of people and hundreds of millions of dollars into the effort over the next few years, to help the group build products and services that helps connect the world.

Dr. Dugan is the latest from Google to be hired by the networking giant. Last year, the company poached Mary Lou Jepsen, a high-profile executive from the search giant's advanced-projects lab, to work on Oculus. Her background is in display technology. Dugan’s leap has intensified competition in the Silicon Valley. The tech giants are aggressively advertising dollars globally in the emerging fields of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, video and connecting people to the Internet.

Facebook’s primary aim is to encourage more innovation underlining the company's broadening technology ambitions. The company has been developing a mixture of new technologies and hardware products to help people in other parts of the world access the internet, including solar-powered drones designed to fly for months together at an altitude much above the planes, relaying Web connectivity. The social networking company is also using a mix of satellite, radio and laser technologies to transmit the Internet to rural areas.

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