Mark Zuckerberg Apologizes For Facebook’s Puerto Rico Virtual Reality ‘Tour’

The Facebook CEO said he meant no offense by the promotional live-stream.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized on Tuesday after his promotion of the company’s new virtual reality platform via a digital jaunt through hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico came under fire.

Some critics said the live-stream “tour” was exploitative and akin to disaster tourism.

Amid mounting backlash online, Zuckerberg posted a brief comment below his VR live-stream saying he meant no offense. The 9-minute video is still on Facebook.

“One of the most powerful features of VR is empathy,” the 33-year-old CEO said. “My goal here was to show how VR can raise awareness and help us see what’s happening in different parts of the world.”

“I also wanted to share the news of our partnership with the Red Cross to help with the recovery,” he added. “Reading some of the comments, I realize this wasn’t clear and I’m sorry to anyone this offended.”

On Monday, Zuckerberg’s cartoon avatar toured Puerto Rico—along with Facebook’s head of social VR Rachel Franklin—to demonstrate the company’s new social app, Facebook Spaces. Puerto Rico is struggling to recover from the devastating impact of Hurricane Maria on Sept. 18 that lashed the island just two weeks after another catastrophic hurricane made landfall. Almost 84% of the island remains without electricity and 37% have no access to drinkable water.

Zuckerberg’s comments in the promotional live-stream also drew fire. After surveying some of the flood damage, he said: “one of the things that’s really magical about VR is that you can get the feeling you’re really in a place.” At one point in the video, Zuckerberg and Franklin’s avatars high-five with flooded Puerto Rican homes in the background.

While the live-stream was hit with criticism, Facebook has earned plaudits for its donations to the recovery efforts. The company gave $ 1.5 million to support relief work being done by the World Food Program and Net Hope, a consortium representing dozens of nonprofits and tech companies. Facebook also sent a “connectivity team” to supply emergency telecommunications support after the hurricane knocked out most of the island’s communications.

Tech

Robert Scoble leaving Rackspace for UploadVR to explore augmented and virtual reality

Robert Scoble wearing a Meta headset.

EXCLUSIVE:

Technology evangelist, author, and blogger Robert Scoble is leaving Rackspace to pursue an entrepreneur-in-residence role with UploadVR. He says that he’ll do the same kinds of videos and blogging he’s always done but now with a specific focus on startups and technology in the augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) space.

His last day at Rackspace will be April 4, at which point Scoble will start working out of UploadVR’s offices in San Francisco, where he will continue reporting on the work of those building games, applications, and hardware in this space. Scoble doesn’t know what his long-term plans are or whether he’ll eventually start his own publication or company.

For the last seven years, Scoble has been an evangelist for the managed-cloud and hosting provider, where he sought out the next big tech ideas as part of the company’s community site Building 43. In 2014, his travels took him to Dublin, Ireland to attend the annual Web Summit, and that’s where his eye was drawn to the Oculus demo room. He said that the expressions of people walking out of the demo made him think, “Holy shit, this is an amazing product to have on your face.”

“It was mind-blowing,” he told VentureBeat. “I thought that this was going to be significant, and I wanted to be involved in it.”

He attributes his departure from Rackspace to a difference of interests: The company wanted him to be fanatical about the Cloud, but Scoble was more interested in consumer technology and societal shifts that he believed were about to happen. The two grew apart.

He has now found an opportunity to focus on both the AR and VR communities, which he believes are going to become “real and huge” and produce a “deeper set of products, bigger than 3D TV or Google Glass.” Scoble said that he’s already taken a look at Microsoft’s Hololens, Magic Leap, Meta, and many other companies.

Robert Scoble

The coming waves of mixed reality

There are two technology waves coming, according to the tech evangelist. The first one is all about VR — the technology is just starting to work — while the second one, AR, won’t be hitting us for a few more years. In fact, he says, AR will be built off of VR. “Every time I get a headset on my face, visit places like Rothenberg Ventures, and hang out with developers, I become really passionate about this space. It’s getting the most amount of investments and we’re seeing new content ideas that can’t be done on a flat piece of glass,” Scoble explained.

In the coming decade, he believes a cultural shift will take place, something that hasn’t happened since the 1960s. Activities we do normally, like watching television and playing games, are going to be disrupted to make you feel like you’re in the “front row experiencing it.” Mobile devices won’t be affected by VR and AR technologies right away, but Scoble thinks our experience with them will change. He said he can imagine a time in the future when phones no longer exist.

Will Mason, UploadVR’s cofounder and editor-in-chief, agrees with Scoble:

Virtual and augmented reality represent the next stage in human interaction. For the last decade, we have grown up as a society in a world with mobile internet, and constant connectedness. That has had plenty of major advantages in increasing our access to knowledge and our ability to communicate globally. But it also has taken some of the humanity out of communication. When 92 percent of our communication is non-verbal, you tend to lose a lot when chatting over text, email, and Facebook. In the near future with VR and AR, you will have all the advantages of online communication with all of the advantages of face-to-face communication; it is the best of both worlds. And that paradigm shift could lead to some majorly impactful things on a societal scale, it could lead to a greater sense of empathy.

For Scoble, it’s about paying attention to the innovation happening in this space and understanding its potential. He understands that VR and AR are “very compelling” and says that when you’re immersed in it, you’ll “be lost for a while.” This disruption is something Scoble claims will be dangerous for the television and entertainment industry and even for technology companies in Silicon Valley. But amid all of this, he’s looking at one main thing: How does this change the human experience? How will it impact what it means to be human?

A genre of epic proportions

It’s understandable if you’re skeptical about Scoble’s vision, and he has apologized for things he was bullish about that didn’t pan out, such as Google+ and Google Glass. However, although many of the things he sees are important, he believes that the genre around VR and AR will be one of the most important and feels that there’s room for him to grow with the ecosystem. “The bleeding edge is coming,” he predicted.

Taylor Freeman (left) and Will Mason of UploadVR

Above: Taylor Freeman (left) and Will Mason of UploadVR

Image Credit: UploadVR

This thinking has brought him to UploadVR, which was founded in 2014. Mason met his cofounder, Taylor Freeman, while he was looking for his next project. The two spent time talking about the future of tech and discovered that they had similar thoughts around the VR and AR space. Their first endeavor together was a self-titled publication they put together before receiving a $ 1.5 million seed round from Shanda Group and others to grow the community and fund new efforts in the space. One such initiative included the formation of a collective, which is based in San Francisco.

Upload Collective, as it’s known, serves as a coworking space for those working on VR and AR. Selected companies have access to the latest hardware and also to mentors, talent, and capital. “Our goal is to bring in companies that showcase the inspirational nature of AR and VR through top quality content and game-changing platforms,” Mason explained. Eventually the collective’s coworking model will evolve into an incubator and accelerator.

Scoble is eager to research more and play with different devices, games, and applications. He said he understands why Oculus was purchased by Facebook and also why it’s located in the center of the company’s Menlo Park headquarters — “It’s all about social.”

Although he’s leaving Rackspace, the company will continue to support him in some way, Scoble said, though it hasn’t been determined what form that will take.

Freeman is thrilled to have Scoble on board: “We couldn’t be more excited to be working with a visionary like Robert Scoble to build a future of inspiration, creativity, and progress, in addition to helping the community really connect with the things they need to succeed.” His partner agrees: “Robert joining us is a great fit because he is such a tireless evangelist for the technology he believes in, and, like us, he views VR and AR as the key technologies of our future. I think that with the platforms we both bring to the table it will be a match made in heaven.”

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Get ready to watch all your favorite TV shows in virtual reality

Netflix-living-room

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Hulu and Netflix are jumping on the virtual reality train. All aboard, early adopters.

Both streaming video services will soon offer virtual reality apps that let users explore content and watch what they want in 3D virtual spaces. Netflix is up first, with an app launching in the Gear VR store on Thursday, just hours after it was announced on stage at Oculus Connect.

While the video itself plays inside the headset on a virtual screen — banish all hopes of stepping into your favorite TV show or movie, at least for now — the app’s browsing interface is an interactive “Netflix Living Room.” This is a valuable feather in Netflix’s cap, marking the “first” subscription video app for VR and yet another platform for the ubiquitous service. Read more…

More about Entertainment, Gaming, Netflix, Hulu, and Television


RSS-3

Get ready to watch all your favorite TV shows in virtual reality

Netflix-living-room

Feed-twFeed-fb

Hulu and Netflix are jumping on the virtual reality train. All aboard, early adopters.

Both streaming video services will soon offer virtual reality apps that let users explore content and watch what they want in 3D virtual spaces. Netflix is up first, with an app launching in the Gear VR store on Thursday, just hours after it was announced on stage at Oculus Connect.

While the video itself plays inside the headset on a virtual screen — banish all hopes of stepping into your favorite TV show or movie, at least for now — the app’s browsing interface is an interactive “Netflix Living Room.” This is a valuable feather in Netflix’s cap, marking the “first” subscription video app for VR and yet another platform for the ubiquitous service. Read more…

More about Entertainment, Gaming, Netflix, Hulu, and Television


RSS-3

RSS-3

Get ready to watch all your favorite TV shows in virtual reality

Netflix-living-room

Feed-twFeed-fb

Hulu and Netflix are jumping on the virtual reality train. All aboard, early adopters.

Both streaming video services will soon offer virtual reality apps that let users explore content and watch what they want in 3D virtual spaces. Netflix is up first, with an app launching in the Gear VR store on Thursday, just hours after it was announced on stage at Oculus Connect.

While the video itself plays inside the headset on a virtual screen — banish all hopes of stepping into your favorite TV show or movie, at least for now — the app’s browsing interface is an interactive “Netflix Living Room.” This is a valuable feather in Netflix’s cap, marking the “first” subscription video app for VR and yet another platform for the ubiquitous service. Read more…

More about Entertainment, Gaming, Netflix, Hulu, and Television


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I Watched Netflix In VR and Now Reality Seems Hollow and Pointless

“IT’S FOR GAMES” has been the oft-quoted cry of VR headset makers and gamers when talking about virtual reality, but the opportunity for movies is unquestionably huge. Today, Oculus VR released a Netflix app for the Gear VR (and eventually Oculus’ own headset.) And it makes watching Netflix in real life seem super lame.

Read more…



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You’ll see the Democratic presidential debates in virtual reality, thanks to CNN

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CNN is offering you a front-row ticket to look around the studio during its upcoming Democratic presidential debate, and you won’t even have to leave your couch.

All you need is a Samsung phone and a slightly goofy-looking virtual reality headset

If you can bear to look like you’re living in the Matrix, CNN is going to be offering a virtual reality livestream of “>its upcoming debate on October 13 in Las Vegas

It will be the first major live media event to receive the VR treatment.

“You can, through this helmet, get an absolutely first-row-seat experience of being at this debate,” said Jason Farkas, the executive producer at CNN Money who is spearheading the project. Read more…

More about Cnn, Virtual Reality, Business, Media, and 2016 Election


RSS-3

You’ll be see the Democratic presidential debates in virtual reality, thanks to CNN

Clinton-33

Feed-twFeed-fb

CNN is offering you a front-row ticket to look around the studio during its upcoming Democratic presidential debate, and you won’t even have to leave your couch.

All you need is a Samsung phone and a slightly goofy-looking virtual reality headset

If you can bear to look like you’re living in the Matrix, CNN is going to be offering a virtual reality livestream of “>its upcoming debate on October 13 in Las Vegas

It will be the first major live media event to receive the VR treatment.

“You can, through this helmet, get an absolutely first-row-seat experience of being at this debate,” said Jason Farkas, the executive producer at CNN Money who is spearheading the project. Read more…

More about Cnn, Virtual Reality, Business, Media, and 2016 Election


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