Facebook Adds Its Ethernet Switch to Open Compute Project

Facebook is sharing more technology, announcing that the Open Compute Project (OCP) — formed by the Silicon Valley company — has accepted its contribution of the Wedge 100 top-of-rack Ethernet switch that transmits data at 100 gigabits per second (Gbps). The company has already utilized many such switches in production inside its data centers, and the announcement signals that Facebook is committed to sharing the infrastructure that lets it handle large-scale data-heavy applications at an economic price point. Continue reading Facebook Adds Its Ethernet Switch to Open Compute Project

Sony Doubles Down on VR with ‘Billy Lynn’ and PlayStation VR

At his MIPCOM TV keynote, Sony president/chief executive Kazuo Hirai talked about the importance of virtual reality to the company, singling out its PlayStation VR headset; director Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” which was shot in 3D 4K at 120 frames per second; and VR experiences tied to its movies, including “Ghostbusters,” “The Walk” and “Goosebumps.” Kando, the Japanese concept of stimulating emotional response in people, says Hirai, is at the center of what Sony wants to create in all its work. Continue reading Sony Doubles Down on VR with ‘Billy Lynn’ and PlayStation VR

IBM Looks to Commercialize Artificial Intelligence with Watson

IBM is launching commercialization of its artificial intelligence technology Watson with the hope of growing it into a multibillion-dollar enterprise. Big Blue has already invested billions of dollars and, currently, a staff of 10,000 employees to evolve Watson, which was launched as a business unit in 2014. The effort is beginning to pay off, as Watson is now assisting in diagnosing cancer. IBM is also marketing its AI in TV ads featuring Watson bantering with Nobel laureate Bob Dylan and tennis celebrity Serena Williams. Continue reading IBM Looks to Commercialize Artificial Intelligence with Watson

Amazon’s New ‘Breakaway’ Integrates Twitch and AWS Cloud

Amazon Game Studios recently unveiled its first big-budget video game, the multiplayer online battle game “Breakaway,” described as street basketball played in a mythological world where athletes are armed. With the game, Amazon integrates live streaming app Twitch, which it bought for nearly $1 billion, and also incorporates Lumberyard, its cross-platform, 3D game engine. Lumberyard, free to game developers, connects to its Amazon Web Services cloud storage. The game is available for free, indefinitely, as Amazon works out the bugs. Continue reading Amazon’s New ‘Breakaway’ Integrates Twitch and AWS Cloud

Netflix, Amazon Spending More on Original Series Production

According to World TV Production Report 2016, over-the-top services including Amazon and Netflix now rank with traditional media sources as TV titans. The report notes that, combined, Netflix and Amazon spent $7.3 billion in 2015 on programming, as much as the country of Germany. The only media outlets to best Amazon and Netflix in terms of production investments are Disney (at $11.84 billion) and NBC (at $10.27 billion). The new status reflects a boost in online series production, from 13 in 2013 to 20 in 2014 and then 41 in 2015. Continue reading Netflix, Amazon Spending More on Original Series Production

Salesforce Passes on Twitter, SoftBank Could Be Next in Line

Salesforce has been rumored for some time to be contemplating the purchase of Twitter. But now, Salesforce — like Google and Disney before it — has decided not to buy the digital platform, leading to a 5 percent drop in the value of the company’s stock. With Salesforce no longer interested, some have reported Twitter’s “suitor pool has apparently winnowed to zero.” Now, some believe that Japan’s SoftBank — which has previously expressed interest — could be next in line to make an offer to the social media platform. Continue reading Salesforce Passes on Twitter, SoftBank Could Be Next in Line

Uber and MasterCard Moving to Selfies for Identity Verification

Uber Technologies, MasterCard and the Alabama Department of Revenue are among the handful of companies and government agencies beginning to use selfies, rather than passwords, as proof of identity. Smartphone cameras take better quality photos than before and facial recognition software is more accessible and affordable, which makes this a new option. But some experts in cybercrime aren’t as sanguine, worried that this way of proving identity is riddled with both security and privacy issues. Continue reading Uber and MasterCard Moving to Selfies for Identity Verification

Amazon, VMware Ink Landmark Deal to Take VMs to the Cloud

After years of starkly different strategies in computing, Amazon and VMware have inked an agreement marking a new stage in the development of cloud computing. The partnership, which takes effect in 2017, will allow VMware customers to use their familiar toolset to manage virtual machines in Amazon’s cloud. VMware virtual machines can already run on Amazon’s cloud, but the service, which VMware will sell, is a new version of Amazon’s cloud and also integrates nicely with Amazon cloud services for databases and storage. Continue reading Amazon, VMware Ink Landmark Deal to Take VMs to the Cloud

Discovery Invests $100 Million in Digital Content Conglomerate

To expand its social media presence, Discovery Communications invested $100 million in Group Nine Media, a new holding company composed of NowThis, The DoDo, Thrillist, Discovery’s digital network Seeker and digital production company SourceFed Studios. In two years, Discovery will be able to buy a controlling stake in Group Nine. German media company Axel Springer will continue to be the second-largest shareholder. NowThis, The DoDo and Thrillist are said to be valued at $400 million, for a total deal value of $550 million. Continue reading Discovery Invests $100 Million in Digital Content Conglomerate

Twitter Rolls Out Periscope Producer, Takes On Facebook Live

Twitter is unveiling Periscope Producer, a new feature that gives video creators a URL that they can stream to from professional gear, including cameras, editing systems, satellite trucks, VR headsets, drones, games, desktop streaming software and, eventually, 360 cameras. With its new capabilities, Periscope Producer, currently an iOS app, directly competes with Facebook’s Live API, which newsrooms, Web celebrities and others have been using to livestream content to mobile and Internet audiences. Continue reading Twitter Rolls Out Periscope Producer, Takes On Facebook Live

Google Launches Jump Camera Rig and 3D Video Assembler

In fall 2014, Google began developing a project it just unveiled: the Jump 3D video capture and production platform for virtual reality. Just as the newly released Daydream View makes the VR headset affordable, with Jump, the company hopes to make VR production both less expensive and, with 3D, more immersive. Although 3D has lost popularity, its use for virtual reality creates more of a “you are there” experience by emulating the way human vision works. Most 360-degree videos are currently still shot in 2D. Continue reading Google Launches Jump Camera Rig and 3D Video Assembler

Amazon Ties Digital Music Service to Echo Speaker and Alexa

Amazon debuted its streaming music service Amazon Music Unlimited, which costs $7.99 per month for Prime members and $3.99 a month for consumers who’ve purchased its Echo speakers. The Echo deal is significantly less than the $9.99 charged by Amazon’s many, already-established competitors. Amazon is also playing up another way Echo distinguishes its offering: a user can ask Echo’s digital assistant Alexa to play a band’s “new song” without knowing the title, a group’s music from a specific decade or a song based solely on its lyrics. Continue reading Amazon Ties Digital Music Service to Echo Speaker and Alexa

Akamai: Hackers Are Using Smart Devices to Attack Websites

New research from Akamai Technologies reveals that hackers are remotely taking over DVRs, satellite antennas and networking devices to steal massive numbers of login credentials. The company says that, in recent months, hackers have plundered as many as two million so-called smart devices in “credential stuffing campaigns,” which means they test whether the compromised user names and passwords can access other websites. Among the devices hacked are Ruckus Wireless Wi-Fi hot spots from Brocade Communications. Continue reading Akamai: Hackers Are Using Smart Devices to Attack Websites

Valeo, Wheego to Test Autonomous Cars on California Roads

The California Department of Motor Vehicles issued permits to French auto company Valeo North America and the privately held Wheego Electric Cars to test a single autonomous vehicle with up to four operators on public roads. Another company receiving a permit was Cruise Automation, which was then acquired by General Motors for $1 billion. So far, Alphabet’s Google has driven 2 million miles in autonomous vehicles on public roads. Permits are a marker of which companies are moving forward in the new field. Continue reading Valeo, Wheego to Test Autonomous Cars on California Roads

Facebook Debuts Workplace After Two Years of Development

After two years of development and testing in London, Facebook rolled out Workplace by Facebook, modeled after the company’s internal network and aimed at the corporate environment. Workplace by Facebook (formerly Facebook at Work) allows workers, even in different companies, to communicate and collaborate, for a monthly fee of $1 to $3 per user. By entering the enterprise communication space, Facebook will compete with Slack, Microsoft’s Yammer (accessible via Office 365), and Jive Software’s Jive among other solutions. Continue reading Facebook Debuts Workplace After Two Years of Development