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This week's digital news has been awash with augmented reality updates, from Facebook to Snapchat and even PornHub.
Elsewhere, there's some interesting work from Google in the healthcare sector and an ongoing row about an internet-enabled juicer.
Match.com launches dating chatbot
Match.com has launched a Messenger chatbot designed to onboard lovelorn customers. The bot asks the heartached about themselves (including arbitrary details such as star sign) and what they look for in a partner, then sends them some suggested princes or princesses within the Messenger UI. If the user clicks, they get scooted off to Match's website to seal the deal.
The bot, BTW, is called Lara.
The Juicero is a $400 Wi-Fi enabled juicer causing quite a stir. Bloomberg suggests that Juicero pouches are just as easily squeezed by hand as they are by the beautifully-engineered machine.
Given the religious zeal with which the juicer is deisgned (founder Doug Evans compared his work to that of Steve Jobs) and the fact that its press delivers four tons of force, the revelations are a surprise.
For some, the Juicero has become something of a totem of Silicon Valley overengineering – just search for Juicero on Twitter. However, there are some sticking up for the concept, including Benedict Evans from VC firm Andreesen Horowitz.
Hearing disturbing rumours that if you squeeze a bag of chopped fruit hard enough, juice comes out.— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) April 20, 2017
Pornhub launches a nude selfie app
PornHub has launched Trickpics, an app which lets users add stickers and filters to their nude selfies in order to cover up their bits.
Facebook F8 event roundup
Facebook's F8 event was cool. Pretty much all the platform developments announced were mind-bendingly futuristic. Here's a breakdown of the three biggest updates:
1) AR and VR
We've already published an article on what Facebook's new Camera Effects Platform and Spaces Oculus experience might mean for marketers.
The video below from BuzzFeed gives the best brief summary of what the AR platform can do – it's basically Snapchat on steroids and is open to developers. Early partners include Manchester United, EA and Nike.
Facebook Spaces for Oculus is altogether a slower burn, allowing users to chat, share 360-degree images and video, and create 3D drawings and objects. The explainer video is somehow both touching and cringe.
2) Brain-machine interface
Facebook has begun working towards a noninvasive system (a headband) that turns thoughts into text. Building 8, Facebook's skunkworks hardware lab, has been investigating the technology for six months.
Find out more from Business Insider's interview with Building 8's head, Regina Dugan.
3) 'Hear' words with your skin
Another Building 8 project aims to allow an armband to relay vibrations that can be correctly interpreted by the wearer.
MIT Tech Review reports that the project 'draws inspiration from Braille and Tadoma—a method of communication in which people who are both deaf and blind place a hand on the face of another person to feel the vibrations and air as that person speaks.'
Early experiments involved a researcher with a small number of words on a tablet, relaying one of them to a number of actuators on an engineer's arm. That engineer was able to understand which object on the table in front of him he was instructed to pick up.
The goal is to produce a wearable that sends messages you can feel.
4) Messenger updates
Facebook Messenger is getting a new Discover tab which will offer categories, bots and search. Chat extensions in Messenger will also allow more than one person to interact with an app or business at the same time, such as listening to the same Spotify tunes.
Amazon planning on-demand fashion manufacturing?
Recode details the awarding of a patent filed in 2015 for an 'on-demand manufacturing system designed to quickly produce clothing and other products after a customer order is placed.'
Textile printers, cutters and an assembly line are all shown in the diagram from the patent, below. Cameras will be used to capture garments and provide feedback on alterations needed going forward.
Snapchat expands lenses, not just for selfies
Snapchat has released World Lenses, AR effects for the rear-facing camera that can be applied to whatever scene you are shooting. The release is timely, given all the noise from F8.
Bose 'spying' lawsuit
Reuters reports that Bose is subject to a lawsuit claiming it violates the privacy rights of its wireless headphone app customers by selling their listening habits without permission.
Kyle Zak claims Bose has "wholesale disregard" for the privacy of customers who download its free Bose Connect app, which sends "all available media information" to third parties such as Segment.io.
Google's massive health study
Verily, a Google-owned health company, has launched a study called the Baseline Project that tracks 10,000 healthy volunteers. A variety of bodily fluids and metrics will be analysed, partly using a watch that will measure sleep and exercise.
The aim is to also look at participants' genomes and identify predictors of disease. Of course, these kinds of studies are not new, but the scale of this one and the use of remote monitoring and genome sequencing makes it noteworthy. More from MIT Review.
Tumblr launches video chat app
Tumblr has collaborated with Polvore Labs (both Yahoo owned) to create Cabana, a video chat app which lets up to six users chat and stream YouTube videos together.