Facebook opens Area 404 to make futuristic hardware
Facebook opens Area 404 to make futuristic hardware. Image credit: i Magazine

CALIFORNIA – Yesterday, Facebook allowed a group of journalist to have a first look at its new hardware and connectivity lab: Area 404. The new compound, named after the “not found” error 404, will serve as a faster way to create, design, and manufacture new technology.

Also, the lab counts with all the high-end machinery needed for this kind of work, such as a sheet metal-cutting water jet and a 5-axis milling machine, to name a couple. Area 404 will also have the role of managing Facebook’s data center, VR, and connectivity divisions.

One of the primary purposes of area 404 is to gather most of the research teams and divisions of the company in one space. It serves as a way to cut the time between product conception, design, testing, and manufacturing. Also, Internet.org and the Oculus VR should now be able to share ideas more quickly.

Facebook will outsource no more

With a ten year streak of innovation in social media and hardware,  the California-based giant has been encountering harder to outsource the researching and manufacturing of new technology, which is why the corporation funded the new 22.00-square-foot compound.

Located at the center of the company’s Menlo headquarters, area 404 will focus on the creation of useful hardware. A goal Facebook has been seeking since it started to build the lab nine months ago.

In 2011, Facebook began manufacturing in-house to facilitate workflow. The current lab began as a repurposed mailroom in 1 Hacker way, the 17th company building located in Menlo Park. Its original intent was to enhance the conception of ideas by the firm’s research staff, upgrading servers and data center hardware.

This concept expanded into the modern, fully-equipped compound, designed to handle all the physical aspects of product hardware managed by the company, as well as the fail test field for early prototypes from engineers, according to facebook’s mechanical and power manager, Mikal Greaves.

“Our first lab was as big as a desk in the mailroom,” said Jay Parikh, head of engineering and infrastructure with Face

Area 404 is already working on technology that could help developing countries 

Although the lab is practically fully functional by now, access is limited only to the teams that work there because some of the state-of-the-art machinery and equipment is very dangerous.

Not even Mark Zuckerberg can enter the facility, which is already working on developing hardware and products like facebook’s open rack system, Wedge, the terragraph wifi nodes and Project Aries antenna, and other projects involving the internet via laser drones, destined to developing countries.

Source: TechCrunch