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Facebook’s virtual reality push is about data, not gaming

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Facebook has announced the latest version of its successful standalone virtual reality (VR) headset, the Oculus Quest 2. The new device packs more computing power and a sharper screen than its predecessor, and is also US$100 cheaper.

The Oculus Quest 2 is the latest step in Facebook’s long-term strategy of making VR more accessible and popular. Facebook recently brought all its VR work under the umbrella of Facebook Reality Labs, it has announced new applications like the Infinite Office VR workplace, and will also require a Facebook login for future Oculus devices.

The compulsory link to Facebook has many consumers concerned, considering the social media giant’s chequered history with privacy and data. VR and its cousin, augmented reality (AR), are perhaps the most data-extractive digital sensors we’re likely to invite into our homes in the next decade.

Why does Facebook make virtual reality headsets?

Facebook acquired VR company Oculus in 2014 for an estimated US$2.3 billion. But where Oculus originally aimed at gamers, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg wants VR for social media.

At the same event last year, Zuckerberg said Facebook sees VR as a pathway to a new kind of “social computing platform” using the enhanced feeling of “presence” that VR affords. For Facebook, the introduction of VR-based computing will be like the leap from text-based command line interfaces to the graphical user interfaces we use today.

This may well be right. VR affords a strong feeling of embodied presence that offers new possibilities for entertainment, training, learning and connecting with others at a distance.

But if the VR future is the one Facebook is “working in the lab” on, it will function via the company’s existing social computing platform and business model of extracting data to deliver targeted advertisements.

Virtual reality collects real data

A VR headset collects data about the user, but also about the outside world. This is one of the key ethical issues of emerging “mixed reality” technologies.

As American VR researcher Jeremy Bailenson has written:

…commercial VR systems typically track body movements 90 times per second to display the scene appropriately, and high-end systems record 18 types of movements across the head and hands. Consequently, spending 20 minutes in a VR simulation leaves just under 2 million unique recordings of body language.

The way you move your body can be used to identify you, like a fingerprint, so everything you do in VR could be traced back to your individual identity.

Facebook’s Oculus Quest headsets also use outward-facing cameras to track and map their surroundings.

In late 2019 Facebook said they “don’t collect and store images or 3D maps of your environment on our servers today”. Note the word today, which tech journalist Ben Lang notes makes clear the company is not ruling out anything in the future.

Virtual reality leads to augmented reality

Facebook wants to collect this data to facilitate its plans for augmented reality (AR).

Where VR takes a user to a fully virtual environment, AR combines virtual elements with our real surroundings.

Last year Facebook unveiled the Live Maps application, a vision of an expansive surveillance apparatus presumably powered by AR glasses and data collected from Oculus Insight. Live Maps will provide many minor conveniences for Facebook users, like letting you know you’ve left your keys on the coffee table.

Now Facebook have announced their first steps towards making this a reality: Project Aria. This will involve people wearing glasses-like sensors around Seattle and the San Francisco Bay area, to collect the data to build what Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly calls “the mirrorworld”, the next big tech platform.

People are rightly concerned about the ethical implications of this kind of data extraction. Alongside Project Aria, Facebook launched its Responsible Innovation Principles page, and they’re already quick to emphasise that faces and license plates will be blurred in this data collection.

As we have argued elsewhere, framing questions about VR and AR surveillance in terms of individual privacy suits companies like Facebook very well. That’s because their previous failings are actually in the (un)ethical use of data (as in the case of Cambridge Analytica) and their asymmetric platform power.

We need more than just ‘tech ethics’

Groups like the XR Safety Initiative recognise these emerging issues, and are beginning work on standards, guidelines and privacy frameworks to shape VR and AR development.

Many emerging technologies encounter what is known as the Collingridge problem: it is hard to predict the various impacts of a technology until it is extensively developed and widely used, but by then it is almost impossible to control or change.

We see this playing out right now, in efforts to regulate Google and Facebook’s power over news media.

As David Watts argues, big tech designs its own rules of ethics to avoid scrutiny and accountability:

Feelgood, high-level data ethics principles are not fit for the purpose of regulating big tech … The harms linked to big tech can only be addressed by proper regulation.

What might regulation of Facebook’s VR look like? Germany offers one such response – their antitrust regulations have resulted in Facebook withdrawing the headset from sale. We can only hope the technology doesn’t become too entrenched to be changed, or challenged.

But regulation has not always stopped Facebook in the past, who paid out US$550 million to settle a lawsuit for breaching biometric privacy laws. In the multi-billion dollar world of big-tech, it’s all a cost of doing business.

Another question we might ask ourselves is whether Facebook’s virtual-reality future and others like it really need to exist. Maybe there are other ways to avoid forgetting your keys.

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Best Virtual Escape Rooms Reviewed

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virtual escape rooms

Online escape rooms have become quite popular these days. It is a great form of entertainment that everyone should try.

Virtual escape rooms are considered beneficial because they help in team building. It encourages your team members to collaborate and have a good time together. Aside from that it also helps you to improve your problem-solving skills.

If you are looking for the best virtual escape rooms, you are in the right place. We have handpicked the best options for you.

Here is a brief rundown of the top online escape rooms:

  1. Black Noir virtual escape room

Black Noir is both challenging and entertaining. It comes with a solid narrative and will keep you on your toes till the end.

There are different rooms and each of them features a different theme. These rooms focus on different puzzles. If you have a small team of people, Black Noir will make the best choice. It is ideal for 3 to 5 players.

  1. Lost in the Arctic Escape

This is yet another great option to try. If you would like a mysterious virtual room, Lost in the Arctic Escape would be the best option for you.

This will be best enjoyed by lovers of the horror and paranormal genre. The room provides several hints, using which you need to make till the end. Once you play this virtual room, you will want to play it again.

  1. 60out

If you are looking for a difficult virtual room for your team, you can consider opting for 60out.

Playing this virtual room can help you work on your problem-solving skills. It has different difficulty levels for you to choose from. To add to it, 60out also has various themes.

  1. Murder in Ancient Egypt

This virtual room is as interesting as it sounds. It is full of mysteries and riddles that will make you think harder.

It requires the group to split up into different rooms while working together. There is a guide that will prompt the order of the events. It lasts as long as 90 minutes and is great for team building.

Virtual escape rooms are not only good for team building, but it serves as a great time pass. You just need a few people to participate with you and together you can solve various riddles, puzzles, and mysteries. Offices can use virtual rooms to promote collaboration within the team.

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What Are the Ways You Can Recover Files from The Recycle Bin?

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Recover Files from The Recycle Bin

If you have accidentally deleted your important files, then recycle bin is the only hope left to recover them.  You can locate your file when it has not been completely deleted by you. One of the most relieving things is that the file pointer even after getting deleted continues to be present on the hard drive. This happens even after emptying the Recycle Bin. To help you in the recovery process, we are providing you step by step instructions that will help you easily recover your deleted files from the system.

How does the file get restored when emptied the recycle bin?

Whenever you delete any file, it goes to the Recycle Bin. By right clicking on the deleted file, you can restore it back to its original location. However, the case complicates when you accidentally empty the entire Recycle Bin content? Now how to recover deleted file?

Recovery of the deleted file is still possible. Even on emptying the Recycle Bin, the reference of the master file gets removed but not the data. So, it is important to perform the file recovery steps from empty recycle bin. There are a few manual steps stated below that when implemented would lead to recovery of the file.  

Restore from its previous versions

  • Go to the folder from which you deleted the file. Right click on it
  • Now choose the option “Restore earlier versions”
  • Select the desired previous version and click on “Restore” option
  • In this way recover file from bin manually

Switch on “System Protection”

This is another way to recover your deleted files from earlier versions.

  • Visit Control Panel
  • Now choose system and click “System Protection” located in the right window
  • The system will provide a listing of all the available hard disk drives with protection
  • Choose the specific drive and then click on “configure”
  • Choose “Restore system settings and earlier file versions”
  • Click on OK and recover your lost file.

Restore using Windows Backup

You can even recover your file using the Backup utility of Windows OS. To restore data from your backup, you will need to perform below mentioned steps, such as

  • Click on Control Panel and then choose “System and Security
  • Click on “Restore my files”
  • There are a few easy steps that you need to follow to ultimately recover your deleted file

Use a trusted file recovery software

You can use a file recovery software to recover your data even when it is not found in the bin. Data recovery software for Windows comes with powerful abilities to reliably and efficiently recover files data from corrupted and formatted storage devices, emptied Recycle Bin, and inaccessible partitions.

Regardless of the type of data, this file recovery software lets you recover your lost valuable photos, music, video and other critical documents. By safely download and installing this software, you can get your deleted files recovered.

Conclusion

Till your file does not get overwritten or completely deleted from the system, it can be recovered. All these above steps would assist you in recovering deleted files from emptied recycle bin.

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