Google Develops Tango and 3D Mapping for VR, Advertising

Google’s Project Tango, which will be showcased at the company’s I/O developer conference May 18 to 20, consists of cameras, depth sensors and software in Android devices to gather images and depth information to recreate a space in 3D. Sources say that the company plans to put more resources into expanding the technology and using it for virtual reality applications. The ultimate goal is to become a ubiquitous source for the world’s buildings, similar to Google Maps, which is used by one billion people a day. Continue reading Google Develops Tango and 3D Mapping for VR, Advertising

Spotify Now Producing Original Music-Focused Video Content

Music streaming service Spotify, which boasts 75 million users, plans to debut 12 new original video programs around music themes. The new programs, which will feature performances, pop culture, musical storytelling, animation and videos about music culture, will be produced and streamed beginning this summer. Spotify had announced a year ago that it planned to move into video. The content will initially be available in four regions — the U.S., U.K., Germany and its home market Sweden — out of the company’s 59 markets. Continue reading Spotify Now Producing Original Music-Focused Video Content

Apple May or May Not Put an End to iTunes Music Downloads

Depending on who you believe, Apple is either ready to “completely terminate” iTunes music downloads in as little as two years — or has no plans at all to shut down this still-valuable source of revenue. Even as streaming gains dominance, music downloading still plays a lucrative role, say some. Sources deep inside Apple revealed discussions about the potential timetable for ending music download offerings, with a possibility of staggered shutdowns beginning in the U.S., U.K. and some European and Asian countries. Continue reading Apple May or May Not Put an End to iTunes Music Downloads

FBI iPhone Hack Could Impact the Future of Law Enforcement

Although the FBI was finally able to decrypt the iPhone belonging to San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook by paying for a third party private hack, the issues around accessing content on a personal smartphone are not resolved. The FBI is figuring out how and if it can re-use the hack, but it’s not simply interested in what’s called “data at rest,” says FBI director James Comey. The FBI is also interested in “data in motion,” the emails, texts and other information in transit over the Internet as “hugely significant” for national security. Continue reading FBI iPhone Hack Could Impact the Future of Law Enforcement

Cannes Film Market to Feature 35 ‘Indie’ Virtual Reality Films

At this year’s Cannes film market, the digital program NEXT will include a slate of 35 virtual reality films from several countries as well as roundtable discussions and workshops, all to be presented on two VR Days, May 15 and 16. Michel Reilhac, former head of film at Arte, the Franco-German network, helped to curate the films and also directed the VR short, “Viens!” (“Come!”). Other French VR films to be shown are “Notes on Blindness: Into Darkness,” and Pierre Zandrowicz’s “I, Philip,” about Philip K. Dick. Continue reading Cannes Film Market to Feature 35 ‘Indie’ Virtual Reality Films

Web Video is the New TV, But MCNs are Fading for Ad Buyers

Streaming video services, including Hulu and Crackle, are now defining themselves as TV networks to capture some of the $63 billion TV advertising market, still much more lucrative than Web video’s $10 billion in annual sales. Rather than differentiate themselves from cable and network TV by emphasizing their millennial viewers, these streaming video companies are focusing on the ways they are similar to traditional media outlets, even changing their events from “NewFronts” to “Upfronts,” the moniker used by TV outlets. Meanwhile, ad buyers are losing interest in MCNs. Continue reading Web Video is the New TV, But MCNs are Fading for Ad Buyers

News Outlets Stream Pre-Recorded Video via Facebook Live

Facebook Live doesn’t have to be strictly live video. News outlet NowThis, which exists solely on social platforms, tried this out in late April by streaming a 38-minute selection of most popular viral videos — and received over 20,000 views and 500 comments. Streaming pre-recorded content is similar to how TV networks have operated for decades, by which previously taped programs are aired on a linear schedule. Facebook confirms it has no policy that video on Facebook Live actually has to be live, but doesn’t recommend streaming pre-recorded video. Continue reading News Outlets Stream Pre-Recorded Video via Facebook Live

‘Ghostbusters’ VR Experience Coming to Times Square in July

The VOID (Vision of Infinite Dimensions), a virtual reality theme park in Utah, is launching a new VR experience in NYC’s Times Square in partnership with Sony Pictures, for the studio’s new “Ghostbusters” film. Opening up small-scale versions of its Utah park is part of the company’s business plan, along with creating its own content and immersive versions of films and video games. In Utah’s park, attendees wear a haptic suit that tracks their movements and a VR headset, powered by a supercomputer backpack that allows untethered walking. Continue reading ‘Ghostbusters’ VR Experience Coming to Times Square in July

Periscope Adds Drone Integration and Ability to Search Video

Twitter, which owns Periscope, is about to debut a way to search via title or topic through the app’s more than 100 years of live video, also offering a list of suggested topics to search. Having launched a year ago, Periscope has accumulated more than 200 million broadcasts — but no way to search them until now. The search function also gives users a list of live streams by people they follow, and allows users to follow videos from a given region. Also new are drone integration and an ability to save live streams. Continue reading Periscope Adds Drone Integration and Ability to Search Video

Adblock Plus Reaches One Billion Downloads, Spars with IAB

Adblock Plus, from German firm Eyeo, is now on 100 million active devices and close to a billion downloads, says Eyeo co-founder/chief executive Till Faida. That’s significant growth from the beginning of the year, when the company reported 500 million downloads and 50 million active users. Adblock Plus also launched its “Acceptable Ads” program targeting larger websites; by whitelisting ads, Adblock Plus receives 30 percent of the additional revenue. Faida reports that 40 out of the top 100 U.S. websites are participating. Continue reading Adblock Plus Reaches One Billion Downloads, Spars with IAB

Machinima and Turner Plan to Leverage Popularity of eSports

YouTube-centric Machinima, which has focused on gamers and fan culture for a decade, just launched MACH-1, an in-house eSports consulting unit that will offer research and analytics, strategic planning and campaign execution. Machinima recently hosted an eSports panel of industry executives at its NewFronts event. Turner and WME-IMG are also about to begin broadcasting scheduled video games on TV in the U.S. ESports have a massive global audience but opportunities to monetize the sector haven’t yet been fully leveraged. Continue reading Machinima and Turner Plan to Leverage Popularity of eSports

Virtual Reality Avatars May Soon Replace Video Conferencing

Microsoft, Magic Leap, Facebook and other companies are working on technologies that may soon make video conferencing obsolete in favor of wearable face computers that permit VR conferencing. Some idealists picture a future where everyone will communicate via a digital persona, not a huge leap for those already using social networks for professional endeavors. A solution such as AltspaceVR allows the user to create avatars that are “cautiously cartoonish,” rather than going after realism, with customizable skin and eye colors. Continue reading Virtual Reality Avatars May Soon Replace Video Conferencing

Twitter Withholds Data, Tensions Rise Between Police, Tech

The battle over encryption is heating up on Capitol Hill where Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said his office hasn’t been able to decrypt 230 iPhones possibly containing important crime-related information. Google general counsel Kent Walker and Microsoft president Brad Smith also visited lawmakers to make the counter-argument that weakened encryption would make their technology less secure. These latest salvos are part of a battle that ignited when Apple refused to decrypt a mass-shooter’s iPhone. Continue reading Twitter Withholds Data, Tensions Rise Between Police, Tech

South Dakota’s New Internet Sales Tax Law Spurs Lawsuits

In March, South Dakota passed a new law requiring many out-of-state online and catalog retailers to collect the state’s sales tax, a challenge to a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Quill v. North Dakota prohibiting states from doing exactly this. The regulation has already resulted in several lawsuits. If the law is not overturned, other states are likely to follow suit, levying similar Internet sales tax rules. The implications would be enormous if numerous states adopt these rules, likely forcing audits and new tax rules in thousands of jurisdictions across the nation. Continue reading South Dakota’s New Internet Sales Tax Law Spurs Lawsuits

Facebook’s Metrics Are Stellar, But Biometrics Spur Lawsuit

Facebook’s net income almost tripled to $1.5 billion and monthly active users hit a record 1.65 billion. But the metric that matters is that users spend an average of 50 minutes a day on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger platforms, up from 40 minutes in 2014. That’s the equivalent of one-sixteenth of most peoples’ waking time, and more time than on any other leisure activity than anything but TV and movies. Facebook, of course, would like people to spend even longer on its sites and that’s behind its latest improvements to News Feed. However, the company is also facing a lawsuit regarding its photo tagging feature and biometric data. Continue reading Facebook’s Metrics Are Stellar, But Biometrics Spur Lawsuit