Airbnb Rates Your Photography Skills (plus more from Amazon & Meta)

Visual attractiveness algo, amazon drones & meta robotics?

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visual attractiveness algo, amazon drones & meta robotics?

1. Airbnb: visual attractiveness scoring system

Airbnb wants to rate your photography skills. 

The company submitted an application for a visual attractiveness scoring system. It goes something like this: Hosts submit a series of photos for their listing and the system generates a “base visual score” for each image based on the scene type, finally recommending a “suggested photo order.” 

“Leading with these five listing photos will help your place stand out to guests, making it more likely to get booked,” one figure on the application reads. 

The motivation to make their listings as pretty as possible makes sense: The more attractive the listing, the easier it is to sell a stay. And while the company recently reported record profits at $1.2 billion and a 25% uptick in nights and experiences booked in its recent quarter, they could be reading the tea leaves about travel spending as the economy contracts. 

“We maintain a positive longterm view on Airbnb and secular shift to online rentals; however, near term we are more concerned about risks to discretionary travel spend/ADRs from inflationary and recessionary pressures,” Baird analyst Colin Sebastian told Street Insider after downgrading the stock from Outperform to Neutral following its results. 

Pretty photos algorithmically chosen to attract the eyes of users may be Airbnb’s bid to continue riding high. 

2. Amazon: adjustable motor fairings for aerial vehicles

Amazon is giving its drones a smoother ride.

The company is creating adjustable fairings that “reduce aerodynamic drag” of its unmanned aerial vehicles by adjusting their position depending on the drone’s flight configuration, giving its pilot more control for a safe landing. 

Amazon has long had high hopes of bulking up its drone delivery fleet. The company announced plans this summer to begin ramping up its Prime Air program starting with deliveries in College Station, Texas and Lockeford, California. And in late-November — six days after the patent was filed — it revealed its upcoming delivery drone, MK30, which is a smaller, lighter version of its current drone and can withstand a larger range of temperatures and light rain.

Sean Cassidy, director of safety, flight operations and regulatory affairs at Amazon Prime Air, said during the Commercial UAV Expo in September, “We’re very tough on ourselves in terms of expectations for performance and reliability of the system. We’re constantly refining the system with the goal of the safest, most effective, and most efficient delivery system possible.” 

The MK30 is expected to arrive in 2024, and Amazon did not respond to request for comment clarifying whether or not the adjustable fairings would be a part of its MK30 vehicle. But the application shows that it’s serious about giving its drones a safer landing.

3. Meta: generating digital floor plans 

Meta really wants people to buy into its metaverse. Its latest attempt could bring the metaverse into your home. Meta submitted a patent application for tech that generates two-dimensional digital floor plans using “sparse digital videos depicting three-dimensional spaces.” 

Rather than bringing a user into a VR metaverse, the patent application suggests that Meta is exploring this tech to bolster its augmented reality work: By better understanding certain rooms, it can overlay objects into a space more accurately or label a particular room for various functions. 

This of course has potential commercial benefits for Meta (and follows a similar playbook to what Google was looking into a few years back). It could use this tech to advertise to you the perfect knick-knacks for your kitchen, den or living room, melding is metaverse tech with its core business model: digital advertising.  

Another interesting use case that’s explored in this filing is using these floorplans for robotics purposes. The application explores capturing video to generate floor plans for robotic devices to “help navigate … and provide additional context to tasks that the robotic device may perform.” Outside of its VR headsets, Meta hasn’t explored the world of consumer electronics too deeply — this could be a sign that that’s about to change. 

The patent application was filed in mid-October, and lots of things have changed at Meta since then. The same day the application was filed, Meta unveiled its AR and VR hardware roadmap at the Meta Connect developers conference, which revealed its short- and long-term plans for the equipment that makes its metaverse come to life. 

But just weeks later, the company cut 11,000 employees, including many at Reality Labs, the unit in charge of piloting its metaverse vision. As Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities, said in a recent industry note, “Zuckerberg finally had to rip the band-aid off on the ambitious metaverse strategy and cut some significant costs as the Street was losing patience with the misaligned growth strategy in this shaky backdrop.”

The application is a sign that Meta may be shifting its strategy to focus on making its metaverse tech more profitable.