Ina Fried May 18
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Google's plan to make VR a less solitary experience

Screenshot by Axios

While virtual reality lets you go to Mars, attend a sporting event or concert or tour a refugee camp, it is often a pretty lonely journey limited to the one person wearing a headset. Google hopes to change this.

At its I/O conference on Thursday the company announced a few new ways it is making virtual and augmented reality efforts a more social experience.

Among its announcements:

  • The ability to use Google Cast to simultaneously share what you are seeing on VR headset with others on a nearby TV.
  • An option to share screenshots or short videos from a VR experience on social media or via messaging.
  • An update to YouTube VR that will let people gather together in a virtual room to watch a YouTube video together and chat.

Also: Google detailed the next version of its Daydream software, known as Euphrades, will support standalone VR headsets from partners. The first two, from HTC and Lenovo, are due out at the end of this year. Meanwhile, on the augmented reality front, the next Project Tango-capable phone, the ZenFone AR, is coming from Asus and will be sold by Verizon starting this summer. And it is finally bringing its Chrome browser into VR later this year.

Steve LeVine 12 hours ago
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Self-driving lab head urges freeze after "nightmare" fatality

Uber self-driving car in Pittsburgh. Photo: Jeff Swensen / Getty

Carmakers and technology companies should freeze their race to field autonomous vehicles because "clearly the technology is not where it needs to be," said Raj Rajkumar, head of Carnegie Mellon University's leading self-driving laboratory.

What he said: Speaking a few hours after a self-driven vehicle ran over and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, Rajkumar said, "This isn't like a bug with your phone. People can get killed. Companies need to take a deep breath. The technology is not there yet. We need to keep people in the loop."

Kia Kokalitcheva 1 hour ago
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Why Europeans are more skeptical of data-driven businesses

A European Union flag seen flying in Trafalgar Square. Photo: Brais G Rouco/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Europeans view privacy as a human rights issue, leading regulators there to be much more skeptical of data-driven businesses like social media. Americans are also beginning to worry about how data is used on some platforms like Facebook, particularly after news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke this weekend.

The big picture: Europe's history and culture plays a large role in shaping its views toward privacy. Granted, this history has to do with government access to personal information, but it's since extended to businesses.