App for Broadcasting Text Chats Rolls Out with ‘SummerBreak’

Avner Ronen, founder of consumer electronics startup Boxee, has rolled out Public, a messaging service that he calls “a third medium for broadcasting conversations.” Public, which raised $2 million at the end of 2015 and is available as an iPhone app and website, broadcasts group chats to an audience, complete with GIFs and emoji. A handful of active participants chat about a topic, which anyone can follow in real-time or read later. Chats can also be shared on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or embedded in other websites. Continue reading App for Broadcasting Text Chats Rolls Out with ‘SummerBreak’

Study Finds People Prefer VR Travel, Adventure to VR Games

Market research firm Greenlight VR reveals that consumers’ main interest in virtual reality is not games, but rather travel, entertainment, events, home design and education. The company’s recent 2016 Virtual Reality Consumer Report also notes that the top VR device consumers now want is the Samsung Gear VR, followed by the PlayStation VR, and that they are less enthused about paying a premium for VR than they were in October. The report surveyed more than 1,200 people aged 18 to 60, including both users and non-users of VR. Continue reading Study Finds People Prefer VR Travel, Adventure to VR Games

Comcast Rolls Out X1 Search & Record Tool for Rio Olympics

Comcast developed X1, a voice-controlled remote technology that allows its subscribers to search, similar to virtual assistants from Amazon and Apple. Now chief executive Brian Roberts has a good reason to roll it out: the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. NBC plans to broadcast every event live on TV or online — a programming equivalent of 24 hours a day for 250 days — and X1 will make it all searchable, by event, athlete or country. Subscribers can even get alerts when an American is close to winning gold. Continue reading Comcast Rolls Out X1 Search & Record Tool for Rio Olympics

Advertisers Explore Virtual Reality, Luxury Brands Embrace It

Sales of virtual reality headsets and software are predicted to reach $1 billion this year, and advertisers are paying attention. At this week’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, an annual confab for advertisers and agencies, the focus will be on VR. Google executives will talk about the virtual reality platform based on the Android mobile operating system that the company plans to introduce this year, and ad agencies will describe how they’re using VR to promote brands and products. Continue reading Advertisers Explore Virtual Reality, Luxury Brands Embrace It

BitTorrent Plans to Launch a Streaming News Network by Fall

San Francisco-based BitTorrent is in the process of launching a TV news network in time for the fall elections. The company has posted a job opening for a news director, who would have the opportunity of starting with a blank slate to create the streaming “BitTorrent News,” described as a “tent-pole live news channel.” When queried, BitTorrent would not describe specifics of the upcoming channel but instead commented that the company has “a lot of exciting initiatives focused on media across all our platforms.” Continue reading BitTorrent Plans to Launch a Streaming News Network by Fall

Tablo Premieres Live TV and DVR App for 4th Gen Apple TV

Canadian-based Tablo has launched an app for Apple TV 4th generation devices that, with the company’s $200 Tablo DVR, will allow users to stream live TV and watch recorded programs. The Tablo DVR, seen as an alternative to TiVo, includes an over-the-air broadcast antenna, and two tuners for the $200 price. A $300 version offers four tuners; TV Guide data is an add-on at $5 a month. Tablo’s only downside may be that it requires some technical know-how to attach the user’s external drive to store the recordings. Continue reading Tablo Premieres Live TV and DVR App for 4th Gen Apple TV

Blockchain: More Than $50 Million in Virtual Currency Hacked

The Decentralized Autonomous Organization raised $160 million in Ether, a virtual currency that is an alternative to Bitcoin. The experimental project was hailed as the most successful crowdfunding effort ever, until last Friday when a hacker made away with more than $50 million. Although the hack was frozen and the project’s computer scientists plan to rewrite Ether’s code to recover the money, the project most likely will end, leaving in its wake a bigger debate than ever about the viability of virtual currency. Continue reading Blockchain: More Than $50 Million in Virtual Currency Hacked

Chips From Barefoot to Offer Blazing Speed, Programmability

A new series of high performance chips, dubbed Tofino, run at a rate of 6.5 terabits per second, twice as fast as any other on the market, and can be programmed to change functionality. Developed by Palo Alto-based computer networking company Barefoot Networks, they are designed so that it won’t take a hardware specialist to code the chips. Due out later this year, the chips will reside inside networking switches, which direct traffic across the Internet. For companies such as Google and Facebook, the ability to program a chip opens up tremendous opportunities.

Continue reading Chips From Barefoot to Offer Blazing Speed, Programmability

Magic Leap and ILMxLAB Plan to Make ‘Star Wars’ Immersive

Magic Leap and Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB have partnered to develop “Star Wars”-related content for the former’s technology. Because Magic Leap has kept its mixed reality developments under wraps, neither company would reveal details about specific experiences that would result from the partnership. But Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz, at the WIRED Business Conference in New York City last week, did show a teaser that showed two iconic “Star Wars” characters, computer-generated but very real looking, interacting with participants. Continue reading Magic Leap and ILMxLAB Plan to Make ‘Star Wars’ Immersive

Vrse Changes its Name to Within and Raises More VC Money

VR company Vrse has changed its name to Within and received $12.56 million in funding, led by venture firm Andreessen Horowitz. Other Within investors include 21st Century Fox and Annapurna Pictures. This is just the latest example of the huge sums that VR and AR companies have been able to garner. Magic Leap raised $793.5 million earlier this year, and Disney spearheaded a $65 million round for VR firm Jaunt. Comcast also led a $6.8 million Series A funding round in VR studio Felix & Paul. Continue reading Vrse Changes its Name to Within and Raises More VC Money

Study Shows Restricting Field of View Alleviates VR Sickness

For some users, virtual reality creates motion sickness, with the result that they either avoid VR completely or limit their time with VR experiences. Now, two engineering professors at Columbia University say that they’ve come up with a solution to VR sickness that can be easily applied to the current array of consumer VR headsets, including Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony PlayStation VR and Google Cardboard. The solution is simply a matter of dynamically changing — sometimes quite subtly — the field of view (FOV). Continue reading Study Shows Restricting Field of View Alleviates VR Sickness

Social Media Becoming Significant Platform for Today’s News

Two new reports — one from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and another from the Pew Research Center — highlight how social media platforms are becoming the dominant platform for accessing and consuming news. Reuters reveals that 28 percent of 18-to-24 year olds are more likely to access social media as their main source of news than TV (24 percent), and 51 percent of those with online access also rely on social media as a news source. This trend is negatively impacting traditional business models. Continue reading Social Media Becoming Significant Platform for Today’s News

Facebook Reveals More on Ethical Regulation of its Research

Facebook collects data from 1.6 billion people, on everything from “likes” to social connections, to establish behavioral patterns. That went further — some would say, too far — in June 2014 when the company conducted a psychological test on 700,000 people to look at how omitting “positive” or “negative” words could alter mood. The resulting controversy about the company’s ethics moved Facebook to add an internal review policy in October 2014. But it is just now publishing new details on how it conducts that research. Continue reading Facebook Reveals More on Ethical Regulation of its Research

Facebook Debuts New Ad Tracking Tools to Entice Marketers

Facebook partnered with point-of-sale systems Square and Marketo to track how well ads lead to offline purchases. For users with location services enabled, the system uses GPS, Wi-Fi and cell towers to provide specific information on in-store transactions. Square and Marketo are just two services that provide so-called offline conversion APIs that let businesses match transaction data to ads reporting. Previously, Facebook ads didn’t provide this kind of precise metrics, unlike Google, which established AdWords in 2014. Continue reading Facebook Debuts New Ad Tracking Tools to Entice Marketers

Apple Envisions a Future Based on Siri, Intelligent Messaging

At the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook described how the company’s virtual assistant Siri will become ubiquitous across Apple platforms and capable of sending messages, making phone calls, ordering a Lyft ride and interacting with non-Apple apps and services. Mastering voice services is key to Apple’s success in an arena where Google, Amazon and others have made headway. Apple also plans to vastly improve Messaging, which, with third party apps, will empower it to do much more. Continue reading Apple Envisions a Future Based on Siri, Intelligent Messaging