Facebook unveils chatbots, 360-degree 3D video camera

San Francisco, April 13 (IANS) Brining chatbots to life, social networking giant Facebook has launched an artificial intelligence (AI) bots right into its popular messaging app Messenger to allow users to interact with businesses and get updates from them.

The company also unveiled its own 360-degree stereoscopic 3D video camera at its annual, two-day F8 developer conference that kicked off at the Fort Mason Centre in San Francisco, California on Tuesday.

With chatbots, an interactive software powered by AI and with human help, Messenger users can send messages to businesses just like they do to their friends and get things done, Xinhua reported.

“To order flowers on 1-800-flowers, you never have to call 1-800-flowers again,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg was quoted as saying.

Messenger users now can try about a half dozen chatbots on this platform and more are expected to come soon.

According to Facebook, there have been more than 50 million businesses on Messenger, which boasts 900 million monthly active users. The company said it is aiming to provide great valuable experiences for users and added value for businesses.

Facebook also released a set of tools to allow software developers to create chatbots for the Messenger in partnership with businesses.

While being new to the US social media’s messaging app, chatbots have already been incorporated in some Asian popular messaging services, such as China’s Wechat. Other tech giants like Microsoft and Google are also working to bring this technology to their platforms.

The new 3D video camera called “Facebook Surround360” produces sharp, truly spherical footage in 3D.

The system includes stitching technology that seamlessly marries the video from 17 cameras, vastly reducing post-production effort and time.

The design specs and stitching code will be available on GitHub this summer.

Built for $30,000, this black circular camera has a disk-shaped spaceship-like design that has 17 evenly spaced lenses, wired.com reported.

The camera records images from all 17 of those lenses and produces a 360-degree spherical video for viewing both inside virtual reality headsets like the Samsung Gear (stereoscopic 3D) and on ordinary smartphones, tablets, and PCs (monoscopic).

Similar types of videos are already popping up in News Feeds on the Facebook social network.

You can think of these videos as a bridge to the kind of full-fledged virtual reality Facebook plans on offering through the Oculus Rift, the VR headset it released late last month, the report added.

Although Oculus is primarily a way of playing games but soon, the headset will foster a new breed of communication and entertainment atop its social network.

Facebook also launched “Profile Expression Kit” where people can now use third-party apps to create fun and personality-infused profile videos with just a few taps.

The closed beta version kicked off with support for six apps – Boomerang by Instagram, Lollicam, BeautyPlus, Cinemagraph Pro by Flixel, MSQRD and Vine.

Zuckerburg said that Facebook will focus on connectivity, artificial intelligence and augmented reality over the next 10 years.

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