Facebook announced today the details of its cryptocurrency project: a financial services offering called Calibra. This “newly formed Facebook subsidiary” is launching in 2020 and will be a digital wallet to store and send Libra, a new cryptocurrency. It will initially be integrated directly into WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, before eventually branching out as a standalone app for iOS and Android. Calibra will let its users send Libra to each other “as easily and instantly as you might send a text message, and at low to no cost.” The company hopes “to offer additional services for people and businesses, such as paying bills with the push of a button, buying a cup of coffee with the scan of a code, or riding your local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass.” Read more for a video of the wallet in-action and additional information.
Facebook AI engineers Sean Vasquez and Mike Lewis have discovered a way to take robotic sounding text-to speech systems to the next level, producing lifelike audio clips generated entirely by machine. Called MelNet, this AI-powered system reproduces human intonation and can do so using the same voice as real people, like Bill Gates. Think of this as deepfakes, but for audio instead. Read more for a few examples and additional information.
Photo credit: Tadas Maksimovas
Created by Tadas Maksimovas, the Emotigun is basically a wireless 12V gatling gun that unloads real-life emojis, such as Facebook likes, instead of traditional ammunition. This wooden sling shot of sorts is capable of firing over ten rounds per second using anti-cold rubber bands. Tadas, its creator, dressed as Mark Zuckerberg, and took over 200 Facebook reactions to the face. Read more for a video, additional pictures and information.
Facebook AI Research team unveiled an AI called Vid2Game that grabs real people from videos and turns them into playable game characters, similar to those ’80s full-motion video games (Night Trap, Ground Zero Texas, Prize Fighter, Corpse Killer, etc.). Put simply, it uses neural networks to analyze random videos of people performing specific actions and then proceeds to recreate that character and action in virtually any environment. Read more for a tech demo video and additional information.
Director of Research at Facebook Reality Labs Yaser Sheikh is currently working on a virtual reality project that involves photorealistic avatars using 3D technology. It’s officially called “Codec Avatars,” and is designed to let people in the future create lifelike virtual avatars of themselves quickly and easily. “The reason is because we want to be able to understand exactly how you look from every different viewpoint. Because in virtual reality, we might move and look at you from different perspectives, and it has to look as real as you do,” said Sheikh. Read more for another video and additional information.
Is Facebook or Instagram not loading on this Wednesday afternoon? You aren’t alone. There have been outage reports for Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Instagram, across social media networks worldwide. Many decided to post on Twitter with the hashtag #facebookdown to make it a trending topic in the U.S. According to website monitoring service Down Detector, company is experiencing issues across a large portion of the U.S. and Europe as well as less reports from South America and Asia. Read more for a video about Facebook’s privacy plans and for additional information about this outage.
Photo credit: Emily Price / Lifehacker
Mobile phone users prefer “dark mode” to save energy, and the latest app to offer this feature is Facebook Messenger, as the company announced it for Android last year at the F8 conference. It’s now available all users, but activating it is not as simple as heading over to the settings menu, but rather an Easter Egg hunt of sorts. Simply put, users have to send a half crescent moon emoji to someone. Read more for a video showing exactly how it’s done.
Photo credit: Tech Weez
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced today the plans to unify the underlying messaging infrastructure of its WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger services as well as incorporate end-to-end encryption to these apps. The three services will remain as stand alone apps, and is still in the early stages of the work in hopes to complete it by the end of this year or in early 2020. Read more for a video and additional information.
Photo credit: Instagram
Yes, believe it or not, a stock photo of an egg has become the most user liked Instagram post ever, surpassing 35-million likes at the type of writing. “I was sitting at home reading an article online about the top 20 Instagram posts of 2018. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to try and beat the record with something as basic as possible. Which led to me deciding on the egg. I guess it’s also a comment on celebrity culture and how fragile and easily cracked it is (pun intended),” said the account owner to Penn Live. Read more to see how celebrity Kylie Jenner responded to this after it broke her record for most liked post.
Intel announced on Monday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that it’s working together with Facebook to develop a new artificial intelligence chip set for release in the second half of this year. It aims to help with what researchers call inference, or the process of taking an artificial intelligence algorithm and putting it to use, like automatically tagging friends in photos. This comes after Amazon said it had created an inference chip this past November. Amazon’s chip is not a direct competitor to Intel and Nvidia’s business because it won’t be selling the chips, but instead sell services to its cloud customers that run atop the chips starting next year. Read more to watch Intel’s CES 2019 press conference video.