Facebook has developed a low-energy Bluetooth module for a mystery hardware device
• The documents were filed under FCL Inc, the name of the subsidiary that Facebook uses for drone-related technologies, such as its Aquila drone
• Filing comes as Facebook reportedly developing smart speaker, other hardwareFacebook has designed a low-energy Bluetooth module to be used in a still-unspecified hardware device.
The Bluetooth transmitter is attached to a printer circuit board, which Facebook says can only be installed by an original equipment manufacturer, according to FCC filings.
In other words, it's a component that will be integrated into some sort of device, which Facebook is keeping under wraps for now (much of the info in the filings is still confidential).
The filings, which were filed in June, come as evidence mounts suggesting Facebook is working on new consumer hardware. On Tuesday, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reported that Facebook's Building 8 group was developing a video chat device and a smart speaker, similar to Amazon's Echo. Business Insider previously reported that Facebook recently patented a modular device that could function like a smart speaker with a touchscreen.
Here's a sketch of Facebook's Bluetooth module, included in the filing:
There are a few clues in the filing that point to some kind of drone or telecommunications-related product. The filing is under FCL Inc, which is the name of the subsidiary that Facebook uses for drone-related technologies, such as its Aquila drone. And the contact name on some of the documents is Andrew Guhr, a Facebook lawyer whose LinkedIn bio describes him as Associate General Counsel, Telecommunications at Facebook.
Guhr's job description raises some intriguing possibilities for the mystery product:
"Advising on telecom laws and regulations around the globe on projects ranging from submarine cables, terrestrial networks, wireless networks, experimental technologies, and next-generation OTT services."
So, what could it be?
The FCC filing refers to it as a Bluetooth LE 4.0 module. Bluetooth LE is the "low-energy" version of the wireless standard, designed for everything from fitness wearables to home entertainment devices and beacons.
Facebook has several projects underway that this could apply to:
- The company has previously filed documents with the FCC for a wireless beacon product that could be used in retail stores.
- Facebook has also been testing a small drone around its Menlo Park campus, in addition to its efforts to developing the larger "Aquila" drone.
- A smart speaker or video conference gadget could also benefit from a Bluetooth module, though it's unclear why Facebook wouldn't simply use an off-the-shelf component for a device like that.
- Finally, Facebook also has an effort underway to re-invent telecom infrastructure, and is designing routers and switches.
Facebook did not respond to requests for comment