It’s been my favourite week in digital for ages – computer vision, programmatic scandal, and TVs spying on Americans.

Lap it up…

Facebook closes Oculus demo booths due to low interest

Business Insider reports that 200 of a total 500 free Oculus Rift demo stations in Best Buy stores are to close. Interest has been so low that some of the people who worked at these demo stations said days often went by without giving a demo.

400,000 Oculus Rift headsets were sold in 2016, compared to 6m PS4 consoles sold during the holiday season alone.

Pinterest brings computer vision to social

Pinterest has launched Lens, which functions a little like Shazam, but with visuals. Turn the tool on an object or scene and it will return related images and content.

“Shop the Look” was also announced, a tool that uses machine learning and human curation to identify products in pins that can be bought (providing the user a link). Brands such as Macy’s, Target and Neiman Marcus have already got involved.


Programmatic hits The Times of London front page

Advertising budgets are funding terror organisations and Nazi sympathisers according to an investigation by The Times, which founds ads from the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Waitrose and Marie Curie on extremist websites and YouTube videos.

The investigation estimates that extremist groups are making tens of thousands of pounds a month from online advertising.

American TVs caught spying

11m Vizio TVs have been recorded what people are watching, with Vizio then selling that information to advertisers without viewer knowledge or consent.

The most popular TV maker in the US, Vizio has agreed to pay $2.2m to settle a case with the FTC and the New Jersey attorney general’s office.

More from The Washington Post.

“Computer, zoom, stop, enhance”

Every crap TV detective that pretended their station’s video technology could enhance pixellated images could look less stupid in hindsight, as Google is working on said technology.

An artificial neural network can take a highly pixelated image (8×8) and sharpen it up (to 32×32).


Twitter combats abuse

In a blog post, VP of engineering at Twitter Ed Ho announced three new initiatives to combat abuse online: 

  • the ability to stop people who have been permanently suspended from making new accounts
  • ‘safe search’ that excludes potentially sensitive content and those that have been blocked
  • concealing abusive and low quality tweets by collapsing them

gif of collapsed tweets

Want to catch up on last weekend’s Super Bowl ads?

The Guardian runs through some of the best and the worst.

UK Government publishes digital transformation strategy 2017-2020

Alongside continuing excellence in service design, the strategy earmarks: 

  • growing the right people, skills and culture
  • building better workplace tools processes and governance
  • making better use of data
  • creating shared platforms to speed up transformation 

Facebook launches community help

Facebook’s check-in feature, enabled after a natural disaster or crisis, has been updated to include community help features, to assist with logistical support.

The community help section seeks to match those providing help and those that need it, through better location-specific search and message functionality.

Read more via Facebook product designer Preethi Chethan on Medium.

Snapchat sees big UK growth

2016 saw Snapchat’s user base in the UK grow by 90% year-on-year to reach 11.2m, according to eMarketer.

However, Snap’s S-1 filing showed growth in Europe and the rest of the world was slowing in the second half of 2016.