Wireless Oculus Go, at $199, Opens Door to Widespread Use

Facebook has debuted Oculus Go, its standalone $199 VR headset that the company hopes will launch more widespread engagement with virtual reality. Unlike the Oculus Rift, Oculus Go does not require a high-end smartphone or computer, has no wires or cables, and is ready to use out of the box. Early reviews give the VR headset a thumbs-up for its simplicity and convenience, and such features as speakers built into the strap. Also at its F8 developer conference, Facebook debuted a new version of Oculus Rooms. Continue reading Wireless Oculus Go, at $199, Opens Door to Widespread Use

Facebook May Lead AR Race, Some Already Have Concerns

With augmented reality in its News Feed, Instagram and Messenger, Facebook is well positioned to dominate with the biggest AR platform, based on the Camera Effects Platform debuted at F8 2017. Selfie filters are one of the more popular Facebook applications, and Facebook is now rolling out very different filters for its Instagram platform, which has a bigger focus on brands and personalities. Engineering director in charge of Facebook’s AR project Ficus Kirkpatrick said the company wants “to increase the diversity of AR.” Continue reading Facebook May Lead AR Race, Some Already Have Concerns

Facebook and RED Partner to Build High-End 8K VR Camera

At Facebook’s F8 developer conference, the company and RED Digital Cinema announced they are teaming up to build a professional VR camera. No further details on price, release date or technical specs were made available. Previously, Facebook demonstrated its depth reconstruction, which enhances 3D imagery, and its prototype Surround 360 cameras. Facebook director of engineering Brian Cabral described RED as an “ideal partner” because the company’s high-dynamic range cameras work well with its depth reconstruction technology. Continue reading Facebook and RED Partner to Build High-End 8K VR Camera

Facebook Aims to Balance New Services with Protecting Data

At Facebook’s F8 conference, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the company’s new “Clear History” tool that gives users the ability to clear their browsing history on the social media platform. The tool is still under construction — Zuckerberg said it will take a few months to build — so there were no further details about its user interface, but Facebook said that, in addition to clearing browsing history, users will also “be able to turn off having this information stored with your account.” Continue reading Facebook Aims to Balance New Services with Protecting Data

Cambridge Analytica to Cease Operations, File for Bankruptcy

In the wake of the Facebook privacy scandal, London-based data consulting firm Cambridge Analytica and parent company SCL Elections announced yesterday that they will be shutting down and filing for bankruptcy. Cambridge Analytica, which is accused of mining the data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their consent, has defended its actions while blaming the media for damaging its reputation and driving away clients. The company said it was “vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas.” Continue reading Cambridge Analytica to Cease Operations, File for Bankruptcy

Oculus Team Developing VR Experience Featuring Live Actors

At Facebook’s Oculus, a new project team is developing a VR experience powered by live actors. Oculus executive producer of experiences Yelena Rachitsky, who worked on Pixar’s first VR experience based on the movie “Coco,” describes it as a melding of indie video game “Journey” and immersive play “Sleep No More.” Rachitsky said the company is interested in creating the experience of live actors “without needing to be in a site-specific location.” The experience, tentatively slated for next year, could also create a new revenue stream for the nascent technology. Continue reading Oculus Team Developing VR Experience Featuring Live Actors

In Response to User Outcry, Snap Retreats on Chat Redesign

Snapchat fans have loudly complained about the company’s redesign of its app, with more than 1.25 million people signing a Change.org petition and Kylie Jenner tweeting that the changes were “sad.” Parent company Snap announced that it would redesign the redesign (at least part of it), in response to the complaints and slowed business. The company reported a 54 percent revenue increase to $231 million and a rise in daily users to 191 million, both below analyst expectations, causing stock to fall more than 15 percent. Continue reading In Response to User Outcry, Snap Retreats on Chat Redesign

Apple Developing Wireless AR/VR Headset With Its Own Chips

Apple is developing a wireless headset for augmented reality and virtual reality, a project code-named T288 and slated for release in 2020, says a source. Specs for the untethered headset include 8K-resolution for each eye and high-speed, short-range wireless technology connecting the headset to an Apple processor-powered “brain.” Chief executive Tim Cook has indicated his strong interest in AR, most recently pushing it in iPhones and iPads. The box currently looks like a PC tower, but reportedly won’t be a Mac computer. Continue reading Apple Developing Wireless AR/VR Headset With Its Own Chips

Amazon Launches In-Car Delivery, Testing Privacy Boundaries

Amazon is rolling out an in-car delivery service that allows its delivery drivers to deposit packages in the trunks of specific vehicles. That’s similar to the feature introduced last year that lets drivers drop off packages inside customers’ homes. Taking another step into its customers’ lives is a risky move in an atmosphere where privacy concerns are paramount. Still, Amazon vice president of delivery technology Peter Larsen says customers “love features like keyless guest access” and that “in-car delivery … gives customers that same peace of mind.” Continue reading Amazon Launches In-Car Delivery, Testing Privacy Boundaries

YouTube, Facebook Use AI Tools to Curb Unwanted Content

Google reports that AI-powered machines, not humans, detected about 80 percent of the 8.28 million videos taken off of YouTube in Q4 2017. This revelation underscores the importance of AI-enabled computers in removing unwanted content — and just how aggressively YouTube is pursuing their removal. At Stanford University’s Global Digital Policy Incubator, executive director Eileen Donahoe noted that balancing free speech with the removal of undesirable videos will be YouTube’s major challenge going forward. Continue reading YouTube, Facebook Use AI Tools to Curb Unwanted Content

Consumers Support the Regulation of Technology Companies

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony in front of Congress made it clear that U.S. legislators are concerned about the power wielded by big technology companies, and believe that such companies may need to be reined in with regulations. Now, according to a survey from market research firm HarrisX, we learn that about 53 percent of Americans think the federal government should regulate big technology companies — even though only 31 percent believe the government is capable of doing so. Continue reading Consumers Support the Regulation of Technology Companies

SmugMug Acquires Photo Service Flickr From Verizon’s Oath

Pioneering online photo-sharing community Flickr, created in 2004 and sold to Yahoo in 2005, has now been sold again. As first reported by USA Today, Verizon’s Oath, Flickr’s owner since 2017, just sold the company to SmugMug, a Silicon Valley photo-sharing and image-hosting service. Chief executive Don MacAskill, who founded the company with Chris MacAskill in 2002, has vowed to “move heaven and earth to thrill … photographers everywhere.” Flickr reportedly has more than 100 million unique users. Continue reading SmugMug Acquires Photo Service Flickr From Verizon’s Oath

Facebook Is Testing Playable Ad Format With Game Previews

At F8 2018 on May 1, Facebook plans to reveal more details of a new playable ad format that it just started testing with a few game developers. The ad allows players to preview a game before installing it, with the goal of driving more “high-intent” installs. Later this year, Facebook plans to roll out the new ad format across its News Feed, and to all advertisers. Facebook is also testing Premiere, which lets content creators debut pre-recorded videos, with real-time chats, as Facebook Live moments. Continue reading Facebook Is Testing Playable Ad Format With Game Previews

Amazon Hits 100M Prime Subscribers, Inks Deal with Best Buy

For the first time, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos revealed the number of Amazon Prime subscribers: 100 million people. In 2015, the company last hinted about the number, saying there were “tens of millions” of Prime members. With this revelation, Bezos is letting shareholders know that Prime is healthy, and that the large number of subscribers will allow the company to continue to invest in technology and thrive. Bezos also recently announced that Amazon is teaming with Best Buy to sell Amazon Fire TV-powered sets. Continue reading Amazon Hits 100M Prime Subscribers, Inks Deal with Best Buy

Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

As part of the company’s recent push to develop new hardware, Facebook is reportedly working toward designing its own custom chips to be used in its consumer devices, data centers and AI software. The social media giant is currently developing devices such as smart speakers and VR headsets, and building its own chips could provide more control over design and development of these projects. Facebook’s strategy follows similar approaches by other tech giants, including Google and Apple. Continue reading Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

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