Hi again from D.C., where I am having some quality time with my Axios colleagues.
1 big thing: Destination VR is the place to be
With consumer virtual reality headset sales not living up to the original hype, there is growing interest in what is known as destination VR — fixed locations where people can try out a specific experience. Such installations are coming soon to a mall, theater or restaurant near you, if they aren't there already.
Why it matters: By virtue of dedicated space and being able to justify the cost over many patrons, destination VR efforts can often provide an experience well ahead of what even a traditional high-end home system can offer. As such, it's a glimpse of where the industry is headed.
Jurassic World VR is the most recent example of this. It's an experience arriving at more than 100 Dave & Buster's locations and produced by the Virtual Reality Company, an early player in destination VR.
- Jurassic World VR is an five-minute, multiplayer experience that lets four people compete against one another to capture lost dinosaurs. It uses a custom motion simulator with HTC's Vive headsets.
The bottom line: Destination VR is important because for many people it's their first real experience with VR. The Jurassic Park attraction should be a good test of whether the notion has legs, bringing a popular franchise to a place that people already go for entertainment.
"This will be a great barometer for the model we are going for," says Robert Stromberg, co-founder and chief creative officer of the Virtual Reality Company.
More destination VR examples:
- Birdly — On display at last month's Code Conference, Birdly uses a traditional VR headset, but has people lie down in a contraption that lets you fly like a bird by leaning and tilting your wings.
- The Void — One of the early players in destination VR, the Utah-based effort has evolved over the years. The Void's most recent project, a Star Wars-themed game, was at TED this year and let people join in the action in a battle against stormtroopers.
- iFly — The indoor skydiving venue recently added a VR component to let people recreate plunging over iconic locations.
- Six Flags — The amusement park chain is using VR to breathe new life into some of its older roller coasters.
What's next: VR will extend to beyond the headset. Startup Immersive Artistry is transforming a spot on the Las Vegas strip into a $100 million multi-sensory experience that will merge live action and holograms to transport attendees to an Asian street market, complete with food, music and more.
- Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell is part of the team behind the effort, due to open in August 2019. They envision a family-friendly daytime experience that will cost around $30 and an evening adults-only fare that will start at $60.
"We want to take large groups of people and transport them into places they could never go," Immersive Artistry CEO Cary Granat tells Axios.
2. Your Twitter follower count may drop
Twitter said Wednesday that it will remove millions of locked accounts from follower counts across profiles globally. The company says each user should expect to lose four followers on average, and that the changes will mostly occur this week.
Why it matters: The move is the latest in a series of steps Twitter is taking to clean out fake accounts and bots from its platform, which they hope will reduce the spread of fake news and misinformation.
"Follower counts are a visible feature, and we want everyone to have confidence that the numbers are meaningful and accurate," Twitter said in a statement.
Our thought bubble: The interesting thing won't be watching everyone's follower count dip a bit, but seeing whose follower accounts make a significant drop, indicating they had a lot of bot followers in the first place.
3. Facebook offers data for research purposes
Facebook has provided one of its largest data sets ever to Social Science One, an independent research commission comprised of third-party academics. The goal, Sara Fischer reports, is to analyze the data in an effort to better understand Facebook's role in the democratic process.
Why it matters: Facebook has a long and complicated relationship with researchers, and particularly researchers who try to access its data for election research. It wants to protect user privacy and its aggregate data, which its business depends on.
The big picture: This is the largest data set Facebook has ever handed over to researchers. The group says Facebook has handed over roughly a petabyte of data, with about one trillion numbers in it.
- The set includes almost every public user URL that Facebook users have clicked on.
- The public can see the codebook of the data set on http://socialscience.one
- The data is broken down by geography, demographic, ideology, summaries of what the other end of the link entails.
- There's also aggregated data. (How many people liked a post, reacted to a post, etc.)
Who's backing it: The research is being funded by seven foundations.
How it works: Facebook is not involved in the peer review process and academics can choose what they wish to research.
Go deeper: Sara has more here.
4. Broadcom turns to new software deal
Broadcom on Wednesday announced plans to buy IT management software company CA for $18.9 billion in cash, just months after U.S. regulators blocked Broadcom's deal to buy fellow chipmaker Qualcomm.
The bottom line: The Qualcomm experience suggested that Broadcom, which was based in Singapore before redomiciling to the U.S., is unlikely to get regulatory approval for another chip deal. So it's going with a software play instead — kind of like when Intel bought McAfee (even though Intel is trying to extricate itself from that deal.)
5. FCC kicks off 5G spectrum auction process
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai announced plans Wednesday to begin the process of auctioning off the more millimeter-wave spectrum needed for 5G.
- The commission will vote on final rules for upcoming auctions for spectrum in the 28 GHz and 24 GHz bands of spectrum expected to take place later this year, per Axios' David McCabe.
- The agency will also vote on whether to consider moves that would prepare an auction for three other bands that Pai said would take place in the "second half of 2019."
What they're saying: "We are very encouraged by Chairman Pai’s announcement that the FCC will auction three additional spectrum bands in 2019 to build on the first U.S. high band spectrum auction which will be held later this year," said CTIA President Meredith Attwell Baker. "By making this spectrum available, the FCC is taking important steps toward ensuring America’s 5G global competitiveness, spurring our economy, and creating jobs.”
Why it matters: It's part of a nationwide scramble to free up airwaves for 5G wireless as regulators respond to demand from carriers.
6. Take Note
- The RISE Conference wraps up today in Hong Kong.
- Jim Shelton is leaving his post as head of education efforts at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
- Uber is laying off the people who operate its self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, even as it has said it hopes to get back on the road there this summer.
- Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas of New Mexico and Republican Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah wrote a joint letter to Congress urging support for T-Mobile US' proposed acquisition of Sprint.
7. After you Login
This is going to drive some of you bonkers.