Zendesk Customer Service Product Built on Machine Learning

Zendesk is introducing Automatic Answers, a service that answers a business’s emails from customers, without human intervention. But it’s far more sophisticated than today’s well-known auto-responders, having been built on a machine-learning platform that in-house data scientists and engineers have been developing for some time. The platform is also used for another Zendesk service, Satisfaction Prediction, which helps determine the customer experience. Automatic Answers will be rolled out later in the year. Continue reading Zendesk Customer Service Product Built on Machine Learning

Fox Livestreams Primetime Programs to Pay-TV Subscribers

As of Monday, Fox is livestreaming all its primetime shows to digital platforms in all 210 U.S. TV markets, the first broadcaster to do so. The first live-streaming show out of the gate was a live performance episode of “So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation.” Among the entertainment programs that will be livestreamed every night of the week and late-night Saturdays are “Wayward Pines,” “Master Chef,” ‘Hotel Hell,” “Home Free,” “Teen Choice 2016,” “Scream Queens” and new series “Lethal Weapon.” Continue reading Fox Livestreams Primetime Programs to Pay-TV Subscribers

NBCUniversal Marks Numerous Firsts for Upcoming Olympics

For the first time, viewers of the Olympic Games in Rio will be able to watch on connected TVs and via devices such as Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku and Amazon Fire. There’ll be a lot to watch: NBC Olympics plans on 4,500 hours of live event coverage of 34 sports to numerous digital devices. Also for the first time, NBC will stream content digitally — but only to pay TV customers, since parent company Comcast’s core mission is to keep people paying for cable TV. Continue reading NBCUniversal Marks Numerous Firsts for Upcoming Olympics

VR Companies Learn the Ropes in Broadcasting Live Sports

Sports coverage in virtual reality is gaining momentum. Jaunt VR, NextVR and IM360 have all shown virtual reality applications for professional baseball, basketball, football, soccer and Daytona 500 auto racing. But sports coverage in VR creates new and unique challenges for producers. For example, VR cameras can’t zoom — a common practice in typical sports coverage — meaning the camera has to be as close to the players as possible, easy for boxing but a tougher proposition for, say, football. Continue reading VR Companies Learn the Ropes in Broadcasting Live Sports

USA Gets Creative with Social Marketing of ‘Mr. Robot’ Return

The second season of the series “Mr. Robot” debuts this evening. But three days earlier, fans of the USA Network series who tuned into Facebook Live to watch a Q&A with the cast of the series, moderated by comedian Keegan-Michael Key, got a surprise showing. In a twist that emulates the show’s themes, fsociety, the show’s hacker organization, broke into the live Q&A to deliver a rant about the interview, followed by a sneak preview of the debut episode of Season 2. Then the full episode disappeared. Continue reading USA Gets Creative with Social Marketing of ‘Mr. Robot’ Return

Disney Accelerator’s New Startups Address Robotics, AI, VR

The Walt Disney Company has invited nine new companies into its 2016 Accelerator program. Disney Accelerator, now in its third season, has gained a desirable profile as several alumni have inked partnership deals with Disney. Among them are Sphero, creator of the BB-8 droid “Star Wars” toy and sports data platform StatMuse, which now works with Disney’s ESPN. One of this year’s invited startups, says The Walt Disney Company’s senior vice president of innovation Michael Abrams, is an internal project team. Continue reading Disney Accelerator’s New Startups Address Robotics, AI, VR

Silicon Valley Still Dominates Tech Startup Culture and Power

In the Industrial Revolution, ideas were more portable than machines, helping to spread change globally. Not so with today’s high-tech startups. Although U.S. cities as far-flung as Denver, Austin, Chattanooga and Washington, DC boast startup centers, Silicon Valley is far and away the biggest for new technology companies, offering experienced talent and more capital. Even as other cities evolve, Silicon Valley grows faster, leaving startups elsewhere at a competitive disadvantage. Continue reading Silicon Valley Still Dominates Tech Startup Culture and Power

EU Telcos Join Forces for 5G Networks, Weaker Net Neutrality

BT, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Hutchison, Nokia, Orange, Telefonica, Telenor and Vodafone are part of a group of 20 telcos that released a “5G Manifesto,” detailing what governments need to do to ensure 5G coverage across Europe. The companies say they will begin conducting large-scale tests of 5G by 2018, with a 2020 commercial launch in at least one city in each EU country. But the telcos also warn that net neutrality stands in the way of innovation and ask governments to lessen strictures enforcing it. Continue reading EU Telcos Join Forces for 5G Networks, Weaker Net Neutrality

Facebook Messenger Will Soon Enable ‘Secret Conversations’

Facebook Messenger currently has more than 900 million regular monthly users, more than quadruple the 200 million it touted in early 2014. To grow in international markets, Facebook is testing a new feature inside Messenger that will encrypt some messages, creating “secret conversations” between the users of the two mobile devices. Users must opt-in to a secret conversation. Although this isn’t the full encryption found in WhatsApp, the new feature offers more security than before, which Facebook hopes will appeal to global users. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Will Soon Enable ‘Secret Conversations’

Nintendo ‘Pokémon GO’ Creating an Augmented Reality Craze

Nintendo added $7 billion in market value since debuting “Pokémon GO,” its location-based, augmented reality mobile game that it says has attracted more than 10 million players in its first month. The game takes users away from videogame screens and out into the real world where they search for virtual monsters in parks, historical monuments and even police stations. While gamers excitedly take to the streets, reports have recently pointed to distracted players falling into holes, walking into street signs, and even being robbed by criminals using the location tech to locate their prey. Continue reading Nintendo ‘Pokémon GO’ Creating an Augmented Reality Craze

Twitter in Talks with NBA, MLS and Turner for Live Streaming

With the goal of being a player in live-streaming sports, Twitter is now in conversations with the NBA, Major League Soccer and cable network Turner, say sources. The company already has the rights to stream some of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games in the fall. And although Twitter couldn’t stream live Wimbledon matches (ESPN holds those rights), it has streamed pre- and post-game material as well as live interviews and analysis. New deals could resemble either of these arrangements. Continue reading Twitter in Talks with NBA, MLS and Turner for Live Streaming

Facebook Aims to Connect the World and Attract More Users

Facebook has debuted a simple, less expensive way to bring wireless networks to rural areas, especially in developing nations. OpenCellular is a platter-sized device that can be attached to a telephone pole, tree or street lamp, to drive a variety of wireless networks, from 2G to LTE and Wi-Fi. Rather than get into the hardware business, however, Facebook will open-source the design for OpenCellular, with the hope that others will develop it to connect the 10 percent of the world that lacks cellular networks. Continue reading Facebook Aims to Connect the World and Attract More Users

Post Cereal Gets Immersive with New Fruity Pebbles VR Spot

Cereal company Post created its first virtual reality content: a 30-second pre-roll spot for Fruity Pebbles’ “Yabba Dabba Doo” campaign that will run on multiplatform apps VirtualSky and StartApp. Rather than place the viewer in an environment to explore, the Pebbles spot is a carefully guided, organized experience. It’s still quite immersive, with 360 visuals that spray the viewer with water guns among other activities that include dodgeball, painting a mural and jamming with a garage band. Continue reading Post Cereal Gets Immersive with New Fruity Pebbles VR Spot

Snapchat to Debut Memories to Save, Tweak, Re-Share Snaps

Next month, Snapchat will introduce Memories, a new feature designed to let users save favorite photos and videos, re-edit them by adding filters and text and then re-share the latest versions. Included is a search function that lets the user search Memories by date, location or keywords. Prior to Memories, a Snapchat user could save a photo or video by downloading it to her smartphone, but couldn’t view it in the app or share it. Memories still does not allow a Snapchat user to save a photo/video sent by someone else. Continue reading Snapchat to Debut Memories to Save, Tweak, Re-Share Snaps

Pinterest Develops Image-Discovery App for Mobile Shopping

San Francisco-based Pinterest plans to unveil an image-discovery app aimed at jumpstarting a new kind of consumer shopping. The user points his smartphone camera at anything, taps dots over the object for recommendations of similar items, and the app searches 75 billion images for a visual match. Currently, Pinterest, valued at $11 billion, makes its revenue from advertising. With the image-discovery app, Pinterest could transform the company by encouraging consumers to embrace mobile shopping. Continue reading Pinterest Develops Image-Discovery App for Mobile Shopping