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Facebook showcases wrist-worn AR interface concept

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Facebook’s hardware strategy often looks pretty opaque from the outside. The company has done fairly well with Oculus sales amid pandemic demand. Even its Echo Show competitor Portal has seen a bump as people have been forced to socially distance. The company’s smartphone partnership with HTC, meanwhile, fell flat eight or so years back.

Earlier this year, reports surfaced that the company was working on its own Apple Watch competitor. The smartwatch was said to have a health focus, running on an open-source version of Android. That, of course, would mark an interesting alternative from Google’s chosen wearOS.

This week, the company highlighted another wrist-based wearable. The specifics of the project don’t line up super closely with earlier reports, which could well mean two separate projects. Facebook is a big company, after all.

This particular project out of Facebook Reality Labs is more focused on providing an alternative computer interface. Specifically, it seems in line with the company’s augmented reality efforts.

Per yesterday’s blog post:

A separate device you could store in your pocket like a phone or a game controller adds a layer of friction between you and your environment. As we explored the possibilities, placing an input device at the wrist became the clear answer. The wrist is a traditional place to wear a watch, meaning it could reasonably fit into everyday life and social contexts. It’s a comfortable location for all-day wear. It’s located right next to the primary instruments you use to interact with the world — your hands. This proximity would allow us to bring the rich control capabilities of your hands into AR, enabling intuitive, powerful and satisfying interaction.

I will say that, based on the information presented, this seems more conceptual. As in, this could be the key to offering more seamless control for some future augmented reality system. And even still, it’s presented as a step on the way to a more deeply integrated human-computer solution. How deeply you want Facebook to integrate with your neurons is apparently a question we’re all going to have to ask ourselves in the not too distant future.

This interface specifically is designed to use electromyography (EMG) sensors to interpret motor nerve signals and interact with the interface accordingly. The subject interestingly came up during a Clubhouse event featuring Mark Zuckerberg last night. After Pebble founder/YC partner Eric Migicovsky discussed experiences dealing with Apple for his own smartwatch startup, the Facebook CEO said the following:

If you’re trying to build a watch, which we’re exploring as we talked about the wrist thing and I don’t want to call it a watch, but it’s the basic neural interfaces work that our Facebook reality labs team demoed some of our research about today. With the neural interface on the wrist, if you want that to integrate with the phone in any way, it’s just so much easier on Android than iOS. My guess is that this is an area where there probably should be a lot more focus. And I do think the private APIs are just something that makes it really difficult to have a healthy ecosystem.

“Exploring” seems like an operative word here. But it’s always cool/fascinating to see these projects in their early stages. Even if the promises might still seem a tad…overzealous.

EMG will eventually progress to richer controls. In AR, you’ll be able to actually touch and move virtual UIs and objects, as you can see in this demo video. You’ll also be able to control virtual objects at a distance. It’s sort of like having a superpower like the Force.

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FACEBOOK

Facebook fighting against disinformation: Launch new options

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Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has dismantled new malicious networks that used vaccine debates to harass professionals or sow division in some countries, a sign that disinformation about the pandemic, spread for political ends, is on the wane not.

“They insulted doctors, journalists and elected officials, calling them supporters of the Nazis because they were promoting vaccines against the Covid, ensuring that compulsory vaccination would lead to a dictatorship of health,” explained Mike Dvilyanski, director investigations into emerging threats, at a press conference on Wednesday.

He was referring to a network linked to an anti-vaccination movement called “V_V”, which the Californian group accuses of having carried out a campaign of intimidation and mass harassment in Italy and France, against health figures, media and politics.

The authors of this operation coordinated in particular via the Telegram messaging system, where the volunteers had access to lists of people to target and to “training” to avoid automatic detection by Facebook.

Their tactics included leaving comments under victims’ messages rather than posting content, and using slightly changed spellings like “vaxcinati” instead of “vaccinati”, meaning “people vaccinated” in Italian.

The social media giant said it was difficult to assess the reach and impact of the campaign, which took place across different platforms.

This is a “psychological war” against people in favor of vaccines, according to Graphika, a company specializing in the analysis of social networks, which published Wednesday a report on the movement “V_V”, whose name comes from the Italian verb “vivere” (“to live”).

“We have observed what appears to be a sprawling populist movement that combines existing conspiratorial theories with anti-authoritarian narratives, and a torrent of health disinformation,” experts detail.

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They estimate that “V_V” brings together some 20,000 supporters, some of whom have taken part in acts of vandalism against hospitals and operations to interfere with vaccinations, by making medical appointments without honoring them, for example.

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Change on Facebook

Facebook announces news that will facilitate your sales and purchases on the social network.

Mark Zuckerberg, the boss of Facebook, announced that the parent company would now be called Meta, to better represent all of its activities, from social networks to virtual reality, but the names of the different services will remain unchanged. A month later, Meta is already announcing news for the social network.

The first is the launch of online stores in Facebook groups. A “Shop” tab will appear and will allow members to buy products directly through the group in question.

Other features have been communicated with the aim of facilitating e-commerce within the social network, such as the display of recommendations and a better mention of products or even Live Shopping. At this time, no date has been announced regarding the launch of these new options.

In the light of recent features, the company wants to know the feedback from its users through the survey same like what Tesco doing to get its customers feedback via Tesco Views Survey. However, the company is still about this feedback will announce sooner than later in this regard.

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