Epic Games Demos Digital Human and Offers SDK, Grants

At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Epic Games demonstrated “Troll,” featuring digital humans built with Unreal Engine by studios Goodbye Kansas, Deep Forest Films, and 3Lateral. The scenes created in “Troll” use high-level real-time lighting and animation effects. Epic also announced it is providing its Epic Online Services software development kit (SDK), originally built for “Fortnite,” to game developers for free. Additionally, the company announced $100 million in grants to anyone working to “enhance 3D graphics and inspire creativity.” Continue reading Epic Games Demos Digital Human and Offers SDK, Grants

Instagram Tool Lets Users Make In-App Fashion Purchases

Partnering with 23 brands, Facebook’s Instagram debuted an easy-to-use in-app checkout tool for U.S. users. Adidas, Burberry, Dior, Nike, H&M, Zara, Kylie Cosmetics and Kim Kardashian West’s KKW Beauty are among the first retailers to sign on, with more to be added to the beta test throughout the year. Users in the U.S. will see the feature roll out over the next few weeks. Instagram head of product Vishal Shah noted that, “given that 80 percent of people follow a business on Instagram, the desire really is there to shop.” Continue reading Instagram Tool Lets Users Make In-App Fashion Purchases

Social Platforms Under Scrutiny For Rules Related to Kids

YouTube, founded in 2005, has operated outside the advertising rules that regulate television broadcasting. But due to its significant reach and influence, the site is now under scrutiny for potential regulation — which will likely start with children’s programming. A digital influencer like 15-year old JoJo Siwa is a case in point: she draws millions of young female viewers to her quirky videos. But she also inks endorsement deals and sells branded fashion lines with Target, blurring the lines between content and advertising. Continue reading Social Platforms Under Scrutiny For Rules Related to Kids

Google Hopes its Stadia Will Become the Netflix of Gaming

At this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Google introduced Stadia, a service that streams video games from the cloud to smartphones, tablets or computers with a Chrome browser or a TV using a Chromecast Ultra device. Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said people watching a video game on YouTube could simply click to join it. The company did not state whether the service would be compatible with Apple devices. The service is slated to launch later in 2019. Gaming, dominated by consoles, brings in $130+ billion yearly. Continue reading Google Hopes its Stadia Will Become the Netflix of Gaming

Amazon’s Gaming Clout Grows in Era of Multiplayer Games

Amazon is evolving into an indispensable player in the games industry, with AWS providing a cloud-based digital infrastructure for live streaming. Last year, Epic Games went “all in” for AWS, allowing its massively popular game “Fortnite” to achieve global scale. Amazon Game Tech, the company’s services collection that helps game studios get on their feet, has been a mainstay for companies like Square Enix and Zynga. Amazon also owns the game platform Twitch and has developed its own game engine, Lumberyard. Continue reading Amazon’s Gaming Clout Grows in Era of Multiplayer Games

Facebook Commits to Banning Discriminatory Targeted Ads

Facebook will stop allowing marketers to target advertisements based on housing, jobs or credit to people of a specific race, gender or age group. Federal law bans discrimination in these three areas, and Facebook’s changes would put the company in compliance. The move is also part of a settlement of several lawsuits opposing the practice. The American Civil Liberties Union, National Fair Housing Alliance and Communications Workers of America are among those that have sued Facebook over biased targeted advertising. Continue reading Facebook Commits to Banning Discriminatory Targeted Ads

Cloud Pioneers Amazon, Microsoft Dominate Enterprise IT

A report from market research firm ETR revealed Amazon and Microsoft as dominant in the enterprise information-technology market due to their early start in cloud computing. Over 800 chief information officers and high-level corporate executives ranked more than half of the top 30 products and services as those from the two tech giants. Those products included artificial intelligence, cloud infrastructure and software, data analytics, and robotic process automation as well as “other emerging digital tools.” Continue reading Cloud Pioneers Amazon, Microsoft Dominate Enterprise IT

Myspace Accidentally Loses All Music Posted Prior to 2016

Myspace, which introduced Internet users to social networking, faded from view with the advent of Facebook. Still, Myspace endured as a popular music platform, in part because it drew credibility from having helped launch artists such as Arctic Monkeys, Panic! At The Disco, Sean Kingston and Kate Nash. Musicians and other Myspace users were dismayed to read a banner on the site proclaiming that, due to a server migration, files loaded more than three years ago will “no longer be available on or from Myspace.” Continue reading Myspace Accidentally Loses All Music Posted Prior to 2016

New iPad Mini and iPad Air Feature True Tone, Faster Wi-Fi

One week ahead of its March 25th special event expected to feature its media and entertainment bundle, Apple has introduced a new iPad Air and refreshed iPad mini. The latter hasn’t seen any changes since the 2015 launch of the iPad mini 4. Both iPads, available in stores next month, feature new processors and updated displays as well as support for Apple’s $99 Pencil, a stylus. Although the above features are brand new, both the names and construction of the devices are retro, including a Lightning port and Home button. The iPad Air features a 10.5-inch Retina screen, while the iPad mini has a 7.9-inch Retina display. Continue reading New iPad Mini and iPad Air Feature True Tone, Faster Wi-Fi

New Government Task Force Zeroes in on Tech Regulation

In the United States, the debate continues about whether control of data is an antitrust or consumer protection issue — or both. Recent indicators show that the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and state regulators are taking action. The FTC’s new Technology Task Force, made up of agency lawyers in coordination with Consumer Protection Bureau and agency technologists, will examine technology-related matters including prospective and consummated technology mergers. Continue reading New Government Task Force Zeroes in on Tech Regulation

March Madness Live VR App Signals Future for Sports Fans

In the age of television, sports fans typically watched their games on the couch or, if they were lucky, in arenas or stadiums. With the advent of virtual reality, however, that paradigm is about to shift. The future of sports promises to be more accessible, interactive, personalized and immersive. The fan might still sit on the couch — or at an office desk — but technologies including the Oculus Go VR headset and Intel’s True View will deliver the game in exciting new angles and a 3D view of everything on the field or court. Continue reading March Madness Live VR App Signals Future for Sports Fans

Disney, ILMxLAB and The VOID Introduce ‘Ralph Breaks VR’

The 2018 CG animated movie “Ralph Breaks the Internet” raked in more than $500 million in box office revenues last year and, this year, visitors to The VOID in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas will be able to have the immersive “Ralph Breaks VR” experience. Located in the Grand Canal Shoppes, the experience — from Disney and Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB in partnership with The VOID, allows four players to enjoy features not possible in a home VR experience. “Ralph Breaks VR” is available in eight locations including Las Vegas. Continue reading Disney, ILMxLAB and The VOID Introduce ‘Ralph Breaks VR’

Industry Roadmap Outlines Path to Continued AI Dominance

The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) released a draft of its 20-year roadmap for AI research in the U.S., with numerous proposed steps and a call for ongoing support from the federal government to maintain dominance. The roadmap was the work of companies and researchers who held workshops in fall 2018 and in early 2019. USC director of knowledge technologies Yolanda Gil and Stanford University professor Dr. Fei-Fei Li were two of the roadmap organizers. Last month, President Trump signed the American AI Initiative. Continue reading Industry Roadmap Outlines Path to Continued AI Dominance

Microsoft SDK to Bring Xbox Live to iOS and Android Games

Microsoft plans to debut a cross-platform mobile software development kit (SDK) that would allow game developers to bring Xbox Live features to iOS and Android games. With new Xbox Live functionality, developers would be able to pick and choose among features including GamerScore, achievements, hero stats, friend lists, cubs and “even some family settings,” all of which will be activated with a single Microsoft Account sign-in. Microsoft gaming cloud chief Kareem Choudhry described Xbox Live as “the heart of our gaming community.” Continue reading Microsoft SDK to Bring Xbox Live to iOS and Android Games

Facebook Launches Dedicated Gaming Tab on Updated App

With an eye to the 700 million worldwide users it says play video games on its site, Facebook is updating its mobile app to feature a dedicated Gaming tab. The tab will be located in the main navigation bar, so that users can go directly to news, streams, gaming groups and other related content. The tab also points users to instant games they can play with friends, eSports organizations, videos from popular streamers, and game publishers. The new tab is built on Fb.gg, the gaming destination Facebook debuted last year. Continue reading Facebook Launches Dedicated Gaming Tab on Updated App

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