Facebook unveils virtual-reality headset

Facebook unveils virtual-reality headset

September 26th, 2018 by Staff and wire reports in Business Around the Region

Facebook unveils virtual-reality headset

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is off to a slow start in his mission to bring virtual reality to the masses, so perhaps it's appropriate his company's next VR headset will be called Quest.

The headset from Facebook's Oculus division will be a stand-alone device that won't require a smartphone or a connection to a personal computer to create artificial worlds.

The Quest won't be available until next spring, although Zuckerberg unveiled the new headset at an Oculus conference held Wednesday in San Jose, California.

Priced at $399, the Quest will cost twice as much as the less powerful, stand-alone Oculus Go released earlier this year. But it's the same price as the Oculus Rift that tethers users to a PC.

Zuckerberg eventually hopes to have 1 billion people using virtually reality, but he acknowledged Wednesday that Facebook may not have even reached 1 percent of that goal more than four years after paying $2 billion to buy Oculus.

BlueCross foundation aids Carolina relief

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation has donated $25,000 to support American Red Cross relief efforts in the Carolinas following Hurricane Florence.

"Hurricane Florence was a catastrophic event for the Carolinas, and the region is continuing to feel its effects," said Roy Vaughn, executive director of the foundation. "We know the victims of this storm face a long road ahead, and we hope these funds will help them begin to recover."

Hurricane Florence, which was downgraded to a category 2 before making landfall last week, was still powerful enough to create hazardous storm surges and flooding. The storm forced more than 17,000 residents to evacuate their homes and head to Red Cross community shelters, including some in locations across Tennessee. The organization currently has 2,200 disaster workers from across the country on the ground assisting with relief efforts.

"By providing food and shelter to the thousands who have had to flee their homes due to this massive storm, we are making an impact," said Lori Marsh, regional philanthropy officer with the American Red Cross.

U.S. and Japan negotiate trade

The United States and Japan announced Wednesday they will open negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement between the world's first- and third-largest economies.

It's a significant shift by Tokyo which has been a strong advocate of a multi-nation trans-Pacific trade pact that President Donald Trump withdrew from soon after taking office.

Trump made the announcement after meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

He said that Japan had been unwilling in the past to enter into such talks, but now is and such a deal "will be something very exciting."

Abe has cultivated close ties with Trump since after his 2016 election but trade relations have been difficult, since the Republican president withdrew from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, that had been negotiated by the Obama administration and championed by Abe despite considerable domestic political opposition in Japan.

The Trump administration, pushing to narrow the U.S. trade imbalance with Japan, has since imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on its ally. The U.S. has also been threatening to impose higher tariffs on auto imports that would have escalated trade tensions significantly.