Facebook has added to the firm's Building 8 research unit with the acquisition of Nascent Objects, a designer of a modular consumer electronics platform.
Nascent claimed that its approach enables product designers to take electronics ideas from conception to completion in weeks using standardised, off-the-shelf components slotted together in a way not dissimilar to Google's discontinued Project Ara smartphone project.
"People have become used to the idea that with software you can have whatever you want, whenever you want it. We want to make this happen with hardware," said Nascent CEO Baback Elmieh in a statement revealing the Facebook acquisition.
However, unlike in software development, such modular designs inevitably raise costs and result in bulky and inflexible designs. Google's Project Ara was officially canned earlier this month in a move that followed delays as it proved more challenging turning the basic idea into a commercially viable product.
It's unclear whether Facebook wants to use the Nascent design for rapid prototyping of its own work in Building 8, or whether it has bought the company in order to develop its ideas to take directly to market.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg likens the Building 8 development laboratory to DARPA. It was set up earlier this year to unite the company's various hardware design initiatives.
The group is led by Regina Dugan, who was recruited in April from Google and used to work at the US Department of Defence.
Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post that the company will invest "hundreds of people and hundreds of millions of dollars into this effort over the next few years".
The lab will focus on "augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, connectivity and other important areas".
Dugan's leadership will be "characterised by aggressive, fixed timelines, extensive use of partnerships with universities, small and large businesses, and clear objectives for shipping products at scale", according to Zuckerberg.
Other hire-profile hires at Facebook's Building 8 include Rich Heley from electric car maker Tesla, who joined in July.
Terms of the Nascent deal were not disclosed.
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