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Facebook reveals remote areas internet access plans

Published 23/02/2016

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg at the Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona (AP)
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg at the Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona (AP)

Facebook wants to use artificial intelligence to help bring remote parts of the world online, the social network has said.

Following on from a surprise appearance at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona where company chief Mark Zuckerberg described virtual reality as the future, Facebook has spoken of its desire to map the world and identify areas of human activity lacking in connectivity.

The social network is already involved in a solar-powered drone project which aims to beam internet signals down to remote parts of the world. This new mapping system could be used in conjunction with the drones.

In a blog post discussing the idea, Facebook's Tobias Tiecke explained that the firm was using satellite imagery to map where human activity is, with a computer able to spot and log where man-made buildings are.

"Ten percent of the world's population lives in areas of the world where connectivity is simply not available; connecting these often remote and rural areas will require the development of new wireless communication technologies and platforms," he said.

On stage at Samsung's event, Mr Zuckerberg called virtual reality technology "the next platform", and explained his belief that VR headsets will become the social hubs of the future, with users gathering around them in order to connect to friends around the world.

"Imagine holding a group meeting or event anywhere that you want," he said.

"All these things are going to be possible, and that's why Facebook is investing so much early on in virtual reality. So we can help to deliver these kind of social experiences."

Samsung and LG are among the technology giants to announce 360-degree cameras at Mobile World Congress, devices which can be used to create virtual reality video. LG has also been showing a virtual reality headset the connects directly to its latest smartphone, the G5.

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