Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook's internal hardware lab, has announced that she is leaving the company after just a year and a half. In her departure message, she wrote that she is leaving to "lead a new endeavor," although it's not clear what that may be. Neither Dugan or Facebook has named a replacement yet.
Dugan was previously employed at Google before her time as VP of Engineering at Facebook's Building 8. While there, she worked on projects like Tango, an augmented reality device, as well as project Ara, the modular smartphone. She also has ties to government having served as the director of DARPA.
Her largest and most well known project at Facebook was their mind reading Silent Voice First program. Silent Voice First was aimed at making it easier to post to Facebook if you were busy or for those with physical disabilities. Other projects include a video chat device codenamed "Aloha." Much of Building 8's work has been secretive but it is believed that some more projects will be made public in 2018.
Dugan's prepared media statement on her resignation appears to cast some doubt on the state of internal affairs at Facebook.
There is a tidal shift going on in Silicon Valley, and those of us in this industry have greater responsibilities than ever before. The timing feels right to step away and be purposeful about what’s next, thoughtful about new ways to contribute in times of disruption.
Going forward, the brain translation project will continue unchanged as the Building 8 team has now grown to hundreds of people. Look for some exciting work to come out of this department in the future.