With many parts of the world still without internet, Facebook have been working hard on finding cool and innovative ways to get people connected, no matter where they are in the world. This goes as far as satellite technology, standard broadband connections and now, drones. While the technology is still in its early stages, these prototype drones as seen in the picture above, are solar-powered and capable of beaming internet data back and forth from users to other ground stations and satellites.
Below you can see how they worked to create the crafts wings, with Facebook saying they drones will be huge, with the wingspan of a 737 and the weight of a car, which is pretty light given their size, but these things have been designed to stay in the air for a very long time between stops.
For those with poor internet connections, this is really cool. For places with no internet, these drones could be deployed on a short or even a long-term basis to create a high-speed connection where ever and when ever they’re needed!
Oculus Rift is coming! That’s something we’ve known for a long time. What started as a humble crowd funding, quickly become a huge change in the industry and the company was then bought by Facebook, turning it into something even bigger that anyone could have imagined. DK1 and DK2 have been doing the rounds for a while now and Crescent Bay (CB) the latest iteration of the headset is currently wowing audiences who’ve been fortunate to demo the hardware.
Some very important things happened today during the VR Keynote at Facebook F8. Facebook demoed a space game running in VR using their Crescent Bay hardware in real-time and quite simply, it looked amazing. They then followed this up by saying “you’ll be able to play it this year”. This can mean the game is available or the hardware will be available, perhaps even both.
Later in the Keynote, they posted an image saying that Oculus will be launching soon. Soon to me, implies this year. I long believed that Oculus would reveal a further headset beyond CB for the CV1 hardware release, however, it now seems like CB is the model that first finds its way into the hands of consumers, most likely to better compete with the growing list of competing devices.
One of the coolest features of the Facebook F8 event are their “Teleportation Stations.” These setups use a special 360 degree camera rigs that are dotted around the show floor, as well as areas that are equipped with Samsung Gear VR headsets. As many of you will know, Oculus provides a lot of the back-end for Gear VR and of course, Facebook owns Oculus, so this is a great way for them to show off the mobile VR hardware.
The booth work much like you would expect. You strap on the Gear VR headset and you can look around the other location as you move the camera with your headset. Seeing the show floor from another part of the show floor isn’t the most incredible thing ever, but it’s a technical demo and one that could see its way into other events in the near future. What if they put a camera on top of a skyscraper, or in an aquarium, at a concert and more?
AI is a big focus for companies like Facebook. Every time you load your news feed, some kind of algorithm is working hard to curate the best content for you. Have your closest friends shared a video of their holiday that you would like, does your favourite brand have a promotion that would be interesting to you, is there a viral video clip that’s suited to your interests. One way Facebook is looking to improve this system is with the use of a neural net AI, that can scan not only images, but also video content and text, detect what kind of content is featured and categorize it to serve it up in the news feed, on other websites and even respond to natural questions and searches based around the information it has learnt.
To demonstrate this, Facebook’s team taught the AI how to detect hundreds of different sports just by showing it a short clip. It was able to pick them out and categorise them, which could help improve upon the current and rather limited tag based system we use for videos.
A further demonstration involved showing the system the books of Lord of the Rings. The AI generated a short interpretation of the events of the story and in the real-time demo, they were able to ask questions about what happened, such as “where was the ring before it was destroyed?” and “where if Frodo now?” and the system responded correctly. This could have a huge impact on the way we navigate content and conduct searches on websites; I’m looking forward to seeing how this platform develops.
We’ll update this article as the stream continues – Last updated at 18:01 GMT
The Facebook F8 live stream starts in just a few minutes, where we expect to see Mark Zuckerberg reveal the future of VR and we hope, the next iteration, or at least some hardware details on the now Facebook owned Oculus Rift.
Some items were teased at yesterday and you can check out our coverage of the F8 event so far here.
We’re still waiting for the stream to start, but as you can see, there is an Oculus booth at the back, let’s hope we see something very cool from that team!
17:00 – Data centres
Mike Schroepfer, CTO at Facebook has taken to the stage.
Mike started out by discussing how communication has evolved, from the many days it used to take to send a letter around the world, to phones, to how we now share almost everything of our daily lives via social media.
Mike went on to discuss how Facebook are looking to continue scaling their services, building the computers and data centres required to provide the infrastructure for current and future technologies. For example, the four huge data centres that Facebook currently operates. He went on to explain how Facebook have improved efficiency and cost to help scale these services.
17:10 – React
React, Facebook’s open source project, used by many content providers to push content, such as NetFlix. The new version is now fully open source and available to use, officially launching right now. This could be a very powerful tool for developers.
17:11 – Internet
Mike discusses how large parts of the earth don’t have access to internet, how only small areas have 4G, a few more with 3G and again with Edge. Connectivity Labs are looking to solve this problem, satellites, drones and other technologies to help provide access to the world. See the picture of their first prototype drone, which runs on solar power and can provide internet access. Wing span is bigger than a 737 and it weighs more than your average car!
17:15 – AI and Neural Nets
Torch, their open source system for building AI. AI that can detect what is in images is no easy task, but Facebook’s new system using neural nets can detect content in videos, such as identifying which kinds of sports are being played in clips. Of course, it’s not limited to just that and could help curate content without the use of tags. It can also analyse all kinds of data to answer natural form questions, which we’ll explain more shortly.
17:20 – Cats
Mike is discussing how to manage content overload, there’s more data on Facebook than you could reasonably consume. The new AI systems could help better find the things that really matter to you.
17:22 – VR
VR time! They’ve shown a breakdown image of Oculus DK2, let’s hope that something new will be shown in a moment.
An in development game is being shown was being demoed real time using Oculus Rift (no idea which model). The game resolution is clearly higher than DK2.
“You’re going to be able to do this this year in VR” – Mike
17:25 – Crescent Bay Oculus Rift
He’s showing Crescent Bay hardware.
17:28 – More Oculus
Michael Abrash – Chief Scientist, Oculus, has taken to the stage.
“what is real” as said by Morpheus in the movie The Matrix. Something that is close to Michael, as he discusses how we should focus more on the world Reality in the term Virtual Reality.
He went on to say how our own eyes don’t take as much data about our world as there really is, such as the fabled dress that flooded social media recently.
He’s discussing how our brains interpret the world around us, filling in some of the voids the data that our other senses don’t accurately collect from around us and how that can relate to creating a realistic VR experience. If it looks real, how can you tell it’s not?
17:49 – Illusions
A long demo of visual and audio illusions, no doubt to show how reality can be twisted and how you can be made to believe things that are not real.
17:57 – Cresent Bay Resolution and Shipping Soon
5K x 5K resolution would be required for Oculus Rift Crescent Bay to simulate a desktop monitor display resolution at normal viewing distance and 16k x 16x, 200x as many pixels as the current Crescent Bay to simulate or normal vision, so there’s clearly a lot of room for improvement for VR technology.
One billion times more graphics performance in just 33 years!
Facebook have had a video platform for quite a while now, but compared to services like YouTube, I think it’s fair to say that Facebook’s solution sucks. All that is about to change, with a range of new features that are set to pave the way for better, more usable videos for content providers on Facebook and no doubt many of the features will benefit personal users in the long run too.
Content creators can now benefit from improved scheduling and takedown systems, with the added bonus that analytic data is no longer lost when the video is removed, for whatever reasons. You can better restrict your audience, which means more appropriate audience targeting to ensure the right people see the content you created. The file size is now 1.5GB and can run for up to 45 minutes, great for content creates who want to share short stories, possibly even movies and TV shows through the platform.
A new uploading system will allow for multiple uploads, as well as real-time updates on video processing, giving you a better idea of when your content will be ready to publish.
Location sensitive subtitles, publishing directly to tab and even custom thumbnails are certainly welcome features, which should help provide a more user-friendly experience.
You can now also manage the featured videos and playlists, no more random selections as seen by the current format.
The most important aspect, however, is the new Video API embed tool. You can simply pull a HTML embed code and share your video on other sites, such as in the content we create on eTeknix. This means sites may no longer need to rely on YouTube to share their content and it also means that Facebook content reach won’t be limited to the sites news feed.
The Facebook news feed is the main focus for anyone who uses the social media site to consumer or share content. But what are the best ways to ensure the content you share is seen by the people who will care about them most? That’s exactly what the experts at Facebook are discussing right now at F8.
Facebooks Cheif Product Officer, Chris Cox and Adam Mosseri, took to the stage to discuss news feed and how they plan to make the most of it. The first thing he discussed was how Facebook are trying to move away from the old model of filtering content based on your likes and comments, to provide a more personal level of content that you find interesting and really care about. A difficult task for a site that curates content to over 2 billion people around the world.
A quick walkthrough discussed how Facebook mixes content from friends with the brands you follow. Which obviously means that virtually everyone’s feed is unique to them and how they interact with it is different too.
Do you comment on one brand a lot, do you watch a lot of videos, do you hide a lot of posts. All these aspects are calculated to give you more or less of that particular content in the future. They also showed how their customisation features work, asking people a side by side, what kind of content is more interesting to you, which further helps curate the right content, for when you really want it.
We’ll bring you more updates as the event continues.
Facebook F8 has been packed full of interesting developments and the event has only been going for less than two hours! Mark Zuckerberg gave the opening keynote, where he and his team discussed the past, present and future of the Facebook platform, but more interestingly, what new features we have as of today and coming in the near future.
Facebook Messenger is getting a huge overhaul, adding a massive range of new features to allow users to dynamically curate original content and share it with their groups, without having to leave the app interface.
A new software SDK has been announced, which will help better integrate Facebook with web-connected devices, playing into the much-hyped marketing term “the internet of things.” That means Facebook could help integrate with everything from your smart connect fridge, tv, automatic garage doors, smart thermostats, smart fitness wearables and a whole lot more.
A new video platform will allow easier ways for content providers to share content on Facebook as well as a much easier method for embedding video and general Facebook content on their site.
New comments API will sync comments from websites with the comments on Facebook, saving a conversation from being split in two.
The coolest thing is of course Spherical Video, a new platform for sharing Oculus Rift ready content. Why share a simple image of your holiday when you can share a 3D scene! Of course, we still need to see the technology used to capture such scenes, but no doubt Facebook will reveal more on this over the next two days of the event.
Facebook Messenger is great, but there’s certainly a lot of room for improvement. The new platform integrates many partner apps that will let you curate and share content dynamically with your friends or group. Create movie clips, gifs, images, music, memes, share sports clips, news stories and a whole lot more from built-in and add-on application packages. This means you no longer need to go out of chat, load another app, export the content, upload it and share it.
While not the most ground breaking thing ever, it’ll be one that has a big impact on how we communicate and it’s a huge improvement from sharing our thoughts and feelings; a far cry from the humble emoticon such as 🙂
Facebook is demoing spherical videos and news for Facebook, perfect for Oculus Rift and they’ve already deployed a special camera system at the event that can capture this special kind of image. The technology allows you to move around in the 3D space and will enable a whole new way for you to share your adventures with people around the world.
This obviously plays well with the Facebook owned Oculus and will no doubt pave the way for the required camera technology on mobile devices in the very near future.
The new system isn’t going to be common place for most people, but this is Facebooks way of showing their support for upcoming and future technologies.
Michael Huang opened up in the main hall, waiting for Mark Zuckerberg to take to the stage, showing just how far the platform and the event has grown since it first launched back in 2007. There will be nearly 3000 developers, 44 partners and more over the next two days, celebrating the current progress of Facebook and more importantly, discussing the future of the platform. Everyone from Zynga to Trip Advisor will be here, as well as Oculus, automotive companies, mobile companies and a few “stealth brands” that are set to reveal what they’re working on.
The event is a little late to start, seeing as people can’t find their seats, but we’re hearing a lot of rumours flooding in that there will be some very cool stuff on show.
Mark Zuckerberg has just taken to the stage and F8 is now officially under way.
More that 50 billion pieces of content, more than $8 billion paid out to app developers and more than 90% of the top apps in the world are integrated with Facebook. There’s no doubt that the platform is huge, with a more than a billion users around the world. Mark went on to discuss how they’ve continued to improve platform stability over the last year and how they aim to improve even further in the near future. He’s also gone on to discuss how they’ve worked to reduce malware on Facebook, as well how they’ve helped prevent developers requesting more app permissions from your devices than is really need, now said to be down 50% vs last year.
Mark went on to detail the number of users for each of their platforms.
Now preparing to discuss future products and projects for Facebook.
Mark is now discussing VR. How we used to text, how we upload photos, how we have started sharing more videos and soon, how we’ll be sharing Oculus Rift ready Spherical Videos. More information on Spherical Videos here.
Revealed their new Messenger Platform, which will further unify Facebook, sharing and apps, as well as offer you more dynamic ways to keeping in touch with friends and content.
Messenger Business. A new way to contact businesses. Need to get shipping details, complain, get price info, find out store information? I think Facebook just revealed what sounds like a futuristic call center, but where the companies manage their own contact system. This could save you from making awkward calls to companies that you would rather avoid.
Facebook developers are now discussing Parse, development of apps and the Facebook mobile platforms. We’re about to take a short break, but we’ll be back as soon as anything cool is revealed. Keep in mind, this event is on for two days! So we doubt that all the best stuff has been revealed in the first hour.
The Facebook F8 live stream started just a few minutes ago and we’re expecting to hear of many new features from Zuckerberg and his ever growing team.
The opening keynote will kick off in about 15 minutes, where Mark Zuckerberg will be no doubt blowing his own trumpet for a while, before going on to reveal new information with special guests from Whatsapp, live reel, Oculus and more!
We will, of course, be bringing you the latest, but while I advise you grab a drink to check it out, keep in mind that this event is two days long and you can check out the full schedule here.
What I’m most excited about is Oculus, will we get a release date for Oculus Rift? It would certainly be the place to do it, since Zuckerberg is the one writing and cashing the cheques for the company after their purchase of the VR company late last year.
Stay tuned for more updates as we wait for Mark Zuckerberg to take to the stage.
Some major new changes are expected to be revealed today relating to the ever popular Facebook Messenger app, which are hoped to help turn the platform into a massive chat hub for Facebook users.
Mark Zuckerberg is expected to open the platform during their annual F8 Developer Conference, which starts at 10:00 a.m. PT/1:00 p.m. ET in San Francisco.
We could hear news about everything from the Facebook owned Oculus Rift, to new content platforms for publishers on the Facebook main site, as well as further developments for their apps and mobile platforms; including something called Teleportation Station, although we’re unsure what exactly that may be at this time.
Ready to find out what Zuckerberg and his team are preparing for the world? Tune in right here.