Reviews: With Touch Controller, Oculus Rift Is Now Complete

After months of anticipation, Oculus finally rolled out its Touch controller — years after PlayStation unveiled its Move controllers in 2010, and even after Vive began shipping two motion controllers. But reviewers who’ve gotten their hands on the Touch are giving it a thumbs-up, saying that its addition now “completes” the promise of the Rift VR headset for a sophisticated and satisfying VR experience. Among Touch’s features is that it tracks the positions of the user’s hand in 3D space. Continue reading Reviews: With Touch Controller, Oculus Rift Is Now Complete

Uber Purchases AI Startup for Autonomous Vehicle Research

To further its efforts in autonomous cars, Uber acquired AI startup Geometric Intelligence and appointed its leads, Gary Marcus and Zoubin Ghahramani as co-directors of its new in-house AI research division. In addition to Marcus and Ghahramani, that company’s entire 15-person staff will also become part of Uber. Since Uber inked that deal, its value now approaches $70 billion. The new team’s first task is to tackle the data from millions of Uber rides, to further development of the computers that run self-driving vehicles. Continue reading Uber Purchases AI Startup for Autonomous Vehicle Research

Facebook to Enable Curated News Collections for News Feed

Facebook is reportedly working on a new feature, dubbed Collections, that presents curated content from publishers in News Feed. Collections is similar to Snapchat’s Discover section, where selected news outlets can showcase news stories, videos and other content. The move is seen both as another way that Facebook is copying rival Snapchat, and, at the same time, battling the scourge of fake news that came to the fore during the U.S. presidential election. Facebook did not comment on the development. Continue reading Facebook to Enable Curated News Collections for News Feed

Facing Ad Saturation, Facebook Is Now Forced to Get Creative

Facebook, which is currently ranked second in Internet advertising, is reaching saturation with its ads, prompting chief financial officer David Wehner to declare that the company’s revenue growth will “meaningfully” slow in 2017. That’s forcing Facebook to experiment with more creative ways to boost ad revenue than simply pushing quantity. To that end, the company is experimenting with targeting customized ads based on the Facebook profiles tied to the IP addresses streaming shows to peoples’ Roku or Apple TV boxes. Continue reading Facing Ad Saturation, Facebook Is Now Forced to Get Creative

Facebook Considers Artificial Intelligence to Battle Fake News

After being heavily criticized for the spread of fake news during the latest U.S. presidential election, Facebook is now looking at the possibility of using its research in artificial intelligence to gain control over the problem. Facebook has done research in AI since late 2013, when it hired its current director of artificial intelligence Yann LeCun. But the company is moving gingerly into the field, still trying to figure out the pitfalls of AI, and how to introduce it sensibly and responsibly. Continue reading Facebook Considers Artificial Intelligence to Battle Fake News

Facebook Rolls Out Instant Games in News Feed, Messenger

In its newest effort to keep users on its site and amp up gaming, Facebook introduced Instant Games, which allows users to play 17 different titles in its News Feed and messaging app Messenger. Currently, 15 percent of the time people spend on Facebook is for gaming. The game titles, which will be available on iOS and Android devices and the Web for free, include Bandai Namco Entertainment’s “Pac-Man” and Activision Blizzard’s new “Shuffle Cats Mini.” Instant Games will debut initially in 30 countries. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out Instant Games in News Feed, Messenger

CNN Acquires Social App Beme to Attract Youth Demographic

CNN just made a deal to acquire Beme, a social media app founded by Casey Neistat, who has a huge millennial fan base, and Matt Hackett, former Tumblr vice president of engineering. As part of the deal, Beme’s 12 employees will join CNN. The idea behind Beme was to share “more authentic” video on social platforms, via four-second bursts that don’t allow the creator to edit the content. CNN is betting that Neistat’s idea — that authenticity draws in a younger demographic — proves true under their aegis. Continue reading CNN Acquires Social App Beme to Attract Youth Demographic

Moat Debuts Video Ad Metrics for Variety of Digital Platforms

Analytics company Moat is rolling out new advertising metrics for platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Hulu. Recently, Facebook revealed that it has overstated metrics for video viewing for years. Rather than focusing on what constitutes a video view, Moat will judge the quality of video ad views with its Moat Video Score, which assigns in real time a number between zero and 100 based on how long viewers watch and listen to the ad and the percentage of “screen real estate” it takes up. Continue reading Moat Debuts Video Ad Metrics for Variety of Digital Platforms

Airbnb Debuts Tours and Activities in Turn Towards Services

Hoping to leverage the traveler’s yen for experiences that make her feel more connected to the places she visits, Airbnb is now offering local tours, activities from surfing lessons to pub crawls, and its travel services in major cities worldwide. Airbnb, valued at $30 billion, is currently one of the world’s fastest growing privately held companies, although it hasn’t been welcomed in all cities. Bringing in local hosts as guides, the tours have been tested by Airbnb in a few cities, soon expanding to 12 and, by 2017, 50. Continue reading Airbnb Debuts Tours and Activities in Turn Towards Services

Instagram Mimics Snapchat and Periscope with New Features

Facebook’s Instagram just debuted two new features for live streaming video and ephemeral messaging, both of which reflect the popularity of such features in Snap’s Snapchat and Twitter’s live-streaming Periscope. By doing so, Instagram has heated up its competition with Snapchat and now competes more directly with Periscope. Instagram, which will roll out the new video features to a small group before a wider launch, also recently introduced Instagram Stories, which apes Snapchat Stories.  Continue reading Instagram Mimics Snapchat and Periscope with New Features

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Lists Options for Managing Fake News

After weeks of accusation that fake news on Facebook, much of it favorable to Donald Trump, impacted the election, Facebook chairman/chief executive Mark Zuckerberg published a post describing ways the social media company might handle the issue. Among the potential steps are third-party verifications, improved automated detection tools and simpler ways for an ordinary user to flag suspicious content. Zuckerberg originally stated that the idea Facebook influenced the election was “a pretty crazy idea.” Continue reading Facebook’s Zuckerberg Lists Options for Managing Fake News

Facebook Acquires FacioMetrics for Human Emotion Detection

Facebook has acquired FacioMetrics, a startup spun off from Carnegie Mellon University. FacioMetrics’ IntraFace can detect seven different emotions on peoples’ faces. Since the purchase, FacioMetrics has been removed from the app stores. The acquisition is likely fueling Facebook’s goal to apply its artificial intelligence research to create “gesture-based controls, recognize facial expressions and perform related actions.” Facebook has said it will use FacioMetrics to enhance its augmented reality face masks. Continue reading Facebook Acquires FacioMetrics for Human Emotion Detection

Facebook Moves to Fix Metrics Bugs and Assuage Advertisers

In the wake of admitting it had overstated how long users spend watching videos on its site, Facebook is taking steps to regain credibility among advertisers and publishers. The company, which apologized in September, will now rely more on third-party measurement services — including comScore, Moat, Nielsen and Integral Ad Science — to ensure accurate metrics on display and video ads. Other moves include the formation of a “measurement council,” composed of ad agency execs and marketers, to develop more relevant metrics. Continue reading Facebook Moves to Fix Metrics Bugs and Assuage Advertisers

High Profile Snap IPO Could Push Other Startups to Go Public

Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. has confidentially filed for its IPO, according to sources familiar with the matter. The four-year old messaging app could go public as early as March 2017, in what is expected to be one of the highest-profile stock debuts in years, and one that could potentially convince other tech startups to test public markets. The Venice, California-based company is looking to raise as much as $4 billion, with a valuation in the $25 billion range, which could make it the largest U.S.-listed tech offering since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba went public in 2014. Continue reading High Profile Snap IPO Could Push Other Startups to Go Public

Google, Facebook Ban Fake News From Earning Ad Revenue

During the U.S. presidential election, the preponderance of fake news on various social media sites got a lot of attention. Now, Google says it is updating its policies to ban fake-news websites from using AdSense, its ad-selling software. The company defined fake news as “pages that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the [website’s] primary purpose.” Following in Google’s footsteps, Facebook similarly banned fake news sites from using its advertising network. Continue reading Google, Facebook Ban Fake News From Earning Ad Revenue

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