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Facebook opens Area 404 to design hardware, gadgets

The lab's name is kind of an inside joke, playing off the "error 404" message

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Facebook has opened a new research lab where engineers will design and test high-tech gadgetry such as virtual reality headsets, 360-degree video cameras and solar-powered drones.

The R&D facility, dubbed Area 404, shows Facebook aims to be more than just the world's largest social network.

The lab's name is kind of an inside joke, playing off the "error 404" message that internet users see when they try to visit a web page that doesn't exist or can't be found. Facebook says its engineers had long talked about wanting such a workspace - but it didn't exist.

Facebook isn't widely known for making computer hardware or other physical products. It became a Silicon Valley powerhouse and Wall Street darling because its vast online network is a mecca for digital advertisers.

Facebook sold more than $6 billion worth of ads in the June quarter, reaping more than $2 billion in profit and giving the company plenty of leeway to invest in new ventures.