“Hey Facebook”: New wake command operates your Occulus VR wirelessly – Digitalmunition

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Published on February 26th, 2021 📆 | 8584 Views ⚑


“Hey Facebook”: New wake command operates your Occulus VR wirelessly

Google chooses its wake word as “Ok Google”. A subtle wake word that does not sound like Apple’s wake word “Hey Siri”. Now, what is a wake word? The wake word is the set of words that invoke the Virtual assistant on any device. For Apple, it is Siri, for Amazon its Alexa, and so on. Now Facebook introduced the wake word Hey Facebook, for Occulus VR devices. Facebook owns the Occulus brand and rolled out the new wake command for its Occulus and Portal devices. Occulus users can control the device using the optional voice assistant feature, which is dormant on the device by default. Once set up, it can do basic search functions like opening apps and managing controls.


What is Portal?
Well, Facebook couldn’t think of a better spying product, so they made Portal. Pun intended. Portal is a smart video calling device, essentially a tablet with speakers a slightly better front camera. It is designed to act as a fixed mechanism of video calling and comes with its own stand and power adapter. The quality is good, if not the best, and has four devices to choose from. The first one is a webcam that attaches to the TV and the rest others, are displays of various sizes. An interesting fact about Portal is that it already has a voice assistant command called “Hey Portal”. Replacement of that command with “Hey Facebook” makes little sense.

Now with every Facebook product, the prominent concern is data security as the company is notorious for manipulating and secretly saving and manipulating the user’s data. Portal came with visible warnings about your voice data being used for the improvement of the experience. Still, anyone with a sensible mind and would not trust Facebook with any fragment of its data. The introduction of wake command for Occulus and Portal devices cements Facebook’s intention of jumping into the VR and voice assistant genre.

Is it a problem?
No. A brand releasing a voice assistant to help its users achieve wireless control over its devices is nothing wrong, unless it is a data-hungry conglomerate like Facebook. Voice commands are analyzed by the Facebook servers to come up with relevant results matching your command.


What’s the concern then?
The concern is Facebook gobbling up major IT companies and using its existing data and R&D to gain more control over the search and usage patterns. Facebook is an advertisement-centric platform and is now riddled with advertisements just like Google. You cannot opt-out from them and they are displayed by studying your browser history and application usage. To throw even more data into Facebook’s bag is not a smart move for any user. With the voice data analyzed over servers, it now has one more piece of the puzzle that could gain a deep insight into your personal information, behavior patterns, and much more.

Also, confusing the users of Portal is another thing that concerns me. Portal was introduced to make video calling easy for the elderly and children, and changing commands just adds to the confusion. Also, an appropriate wake command for Occulus devices would be a phrase that contains the word “Occulus” rather than the word Facebook. It seems Facebook has no plans of merging its every independent technology into one, and this marks the beginning of that idea.

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