Facebook has acquired Nascent Objects, a small California startup founded in 2014 that focuses on creating a modular electronics system that consumers could use to build their gadgets, using reconfigurable components including batteries, camera, sensors and more. The startup worked with design firm Ammunition (also responsible for the design of Beats products pre-Apple acquisition) to create its original products prior to being picked up by Facebook.
The so-called “world’s first modular consumer electronics platform” created by Nascent was designed to make it easier for end users without any special electronics manufacturing expertise to design and prototype new products, without incurring too much cost or effort when compared to traditional prototyping methods. It’s kind of like the hardware equivalent of those rapid prototyping software tools you see for quickly mocking up app design and interaction models before they’re coded into fully shipping products.
Facebook’s Regina Dugan, VP of Engineering for Building 8 at Facebook, posted the video below to her FB profile, noting that “[t]ogether, we hope to create hardware at speed that’s more like software.”
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Nascent will become part of Facebook’s Building 8 lab, which is focused on rapid prototyping and helping quickly move products from concept to shipping state. Nascent is likely a good fit for this part of the social networking giant’s operations, as it will provide the resources and funding to help expand Objects’ modular system, while also giving it a home where it should be put to fairly consistent use across a range of different types of projects, without the startup having to focus on customer acquisition.
Other initiatives focused on modular consumer electronics that have met with less happy fates include Google’s own Project Ara, which set out to build a user-reconfigurable smartphone, but which was recently suspended by its parent company.