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Facebook aims to become a world-leading provider of consumer hardware

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Imagine a future where you could type with your mind or wear glasses that overlay a virtual world onto the real-world. This future could soon be here, thanks to Facebook.

A young woman wearing a VR headset with conceptual data in foreground.

You read that right – the social media giant aims to become a world-leading provider of consumer hardware.

Facebook has brought together some of the brightest minds, from engineers and industrial designers to project leaders and e-commerce experts, to create and market futuristic consumer hardware products in a new AR/VR product division within the company.

“Making breakthrough consumer hardware products is about using technology to create meaningful connections and promote social understanding. It’s about bringing people, culture and communities closer together,” says Dr Paul Herz, Director of Manufacturing Operations at Facebook AR/VR and Curtin Adjunct Professor for the Faculty of Business and Law.

Dr Herz works closely with engineers and product designers at Oculus and Building 8, Facebook’s AI-enabled consumer hardware group based in Silicon Valley, California, to create advanced hardware products, such as the Oculus Rift and Oculus Go VR headsets. Prior to his position at Facebook, Dr Herz worked at Apple for several years overseeing international operations for new product development across several Apple product lines.

At an F8 conference last year, Facebook revealed some of the fascinating technology it’s developing, including a miniature helicopter that can restore internet connectivity in emergency situations, an AI-infused camera for Facebook’s social media platforms and a speech system capable of typing 100 words per minute straight from your brain.

Dr Herz says he’s excited and honoured to be a part of Facebook’s technology revolution, which he says can create social change on a global scale.

“Facebook has several platforms and nearly two billion users worldwide, so it’s the largest company in terms of being able to impact people’s lives in a positive way.

“The goal is to make products and technology that promote communication, understanding and connectedness to improve the human condition and individuals’ quality of life.”

An ambitious plan, but one Dr Herz seems capable of delivering. With an engineering physics degree from Berkeley and a PhD in electrical engineering from MIT, Dr Herz has held multiple director roles in the manufacturing operations sector and is now driven to share his knowledge and expertise with today’s generation of creatives.

When he’s not overseeing the development of futuristic devices, Dr Herz will travel to Perth to provide Curtin students with unique insights into the world of disruptive technology and connect the University with Silicon Valley.

Dr Herz will give guest lectures in entrepreneurship and engineering at Curtin, deliver workshops on manufacturing and logistics, and mentor students interested business and technology. He will also provide strategic advice to the University on industry engagement, commercialisation, and executive education as a member of the Curtin MBA and Executive Education Advisory Panel.

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