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Oculus Adds New ‘Hey Facebook’ Wake Prompt for Voice Commands

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Will ‘Hey Facebook’ become the next ‘Siri’ or ‘Alexa’?

Voice commands are becoming increasingly common, as more people buy up smart speaker devices, and enable voice activation in different ways. And now, Facebook’s adding a new way to activate its Oculus VR devices, by using ‘Hey Facebook’ as the wake prompt.

Hey Facebook

As explained by Oculus:

“Starting this week, we’ll begin rolling out “Hey Facebook” to people using Quest 2. This will be a gradual rollout, but you can find and enable the wake word via our Experimental Features settings – and then say “Hey Facebook, take a screenshot,” “Hey Facebook, show me who’s online,” “Hey Facebook, open Supernatural,” or any of our other voice commands to get started. Note that Quest doesn’t listen for the “Hey Facebook” wake word when the microphone is turned off, or when the headset is asleep or powered down.”

So the device is definitely not listening to your everyday conversations, as goes the common Facebook advertising myth.

Oculus first added voice commands last year, but in its initial iteration, it still required users to press a button to activate the option. The new ‘Hey Facebook’ activation is designed to make it easier to take action without leaving the immersion of the VR environment – which makes a lot of sense, but still, it will also, no doubt, lead to some increased concerns.

In this sense, it’s interesting that Facebook has gone with ‘Hey Facebook’ on Oculus, instead of ‘Hey Oculus’, as the VR headset is not a Facebook-branded device. As we saw recently, with the backlash over WhatsApp potentially sharing more user data with Facebook, there’s clearly a lingering level of concern around Facebook’s data-gathering and utilization processes, and by underlining the Oculus linkage to Facebook, that could serve as a reminder of such, and stoke concerns. 

But then again, Facebook wants to own the VR space, and it’s looking to keep Facebook as a key part of it, through the next stage of social media interaction within the virtual environment. As such, by using ‘Hey Facebook’, it also serves as a branding exercise, which could help to strengthen the linkage between the two worlds.

Interestingly, however, Facebook didn’t go with ‘Hey Facebook’ for its Portal smart speaker device.

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On Portal, users can activate voice commands by saying ‘Hey Portal’, which avoids the potential association with the company. Which makes sense, given the initial concerns people had around adding a Facebook-owned recording device into their homes.

Facebook Portal

So it is interesting in this context to see Facebook going with ‘Hey Facebook’ on Oculus. I would assume that, eventually, this will become the main command on all of its voice-activated devices.

Given the various criticisms leveled at the company, it seems logical that Facebook would be at least somewhat hesitant to include the company name within its voice commands, but it could eventually become as common as ‘Siri’ or ‘Alexa’, and further embed Facebook within our lives. Starting with Oculus might be a first step, which could eventually normalize the command, and help build that mental association to bridge the online and virtual worlds.

It may seem like a small addition, and a small consideration in the broader scheme. But given the amount of times that people will use such commands, it is important, and it will play a role in bridging the connection between the platform and the real world.    

Oculus notes that “Hey Facebook” is an opt-in experience, which will be rolled out gradually to Quest 2, and later, to all Quest devices.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Iran pop singer silenced, but his song remains a protest anthem

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Shervin Hajipour's song "Baraye" draws on the tweets of Iranians longing for a normal life

Shervin Hajipour’s song “Baraye” draws on the tweets of Iranians longing for a normal life – Copyright Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)/AFP –

David Vujanovic

Even though he has been silenced, Iranian pop singer Shirvin Hajipour’s impassioned song in support of protests over Mahsa Amini’s death in custody remains an unofficial anthem of the movement.

The song “Baraye” notched up 40 million views on Instagram before it was deleted when Hajipour was arrested, but he has since been freed on bail and has distanced himself from politics, likely as a condition for his release.

Baraye, the Persian word “For” or “Because”, is composed of tweets about the protests and highlights longings people have for things lacking in sanctions-hit Iran, where many complain of hardship caused by economic mismanagement.

It also draws on everyday activities that have landed people in trouble with the authorities in the Islamic republic.

“For the sake of dancing in the streets; Because of the fear felt while kissing; For my sister, your sister, your sisters,” the song’s lyrics say.

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“Because of the embarrassment of an empty pocket; Because we are longing for a normal life… Because of this polluted air.”

Baraye has been heard played loudly at night from apartment blocks in Iran to show support for protests sparked by Amini’s death on September 16, after the notorious morality police arrested her for allegedly breaching rules requiring women to wear hijab headscarves and modest clothes.

It was also sung with gusto by the Iranian diaspora at rallies in more than 150 cities around the world at the weekend.

In one clip shared by the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, a group of schoolgirls without headscarves is seen singing Baraye in class with their backs to the camera.

The tune was removed from Hajipour’s Instagram account shortly after his arrest but is still widely available on other social media platforms, including Twitter and YouTube.

– ‘Because of forced Instagram stories’ –

Hajipour’s lawyer Majid Kaveh said he was released on bail at noon on Tuesday.

The reformist Shargh newspaper said his family had been informed of his arrest in the northern city of Sari on Saturday, in a report that cited his sister Kamand Hajipour.

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She had said in an Instagram post that her parents had been informed of his arrest in a call from the city’s intelligence ministry offices.

Shortly after his release, Hajipour was back on Instagram, but this time to apologise and distance himself from politics.

“I’m here to say I’m okay,” he told his 1.9 million followers on the platform.

“But I’m sorry that some particular movements based outside of Iran — which I have had no relations with — made some improper political uses of this song.

“I would not swap this (country) for anywhere else and I will stay for my homeland, my flag, my people, and I will sing.

“I don’t want to be a plaything for those who do not think of me, you or this country,” he added.

In response to his post, many on Twitter suggested the line “Because of forced Instagram stories” should be added to the lyrics of the song.

Human rights groups including Article 19 have repeatedly called on Iran to end its use of forced confessions, which they say are false and extracted under duress or even torture.

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In one recent case, a young Iranian woman, Sepideh Rashno, disappeared after becoming involved in a dispute on a Tehran bus with another woman who accused her of removing her headscarf.

She was held by the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and appeared on television in what activists said was a forced confession before being released on bail in late August.

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