Amazon Promotes its Series Pilots on YouTube and Facebook

Amazon Studios unveiled a promotion on its YouTube channel and Facebook page, aimed to garner more Prime subscribers: free viewing of the pilots of 10 original series. Among the pilots being made available on the social media platforms are the critically acclaimed, transgender dramedy “Transparent,” “Bosch,” “The Man in the High Castle,” “Mozart in the Jungle,” “Red Oaks,” and kids’ shows “Annedroids,” “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street,” “Just Add Magic,” “Tumble Leaf” and “Wishenpoof!” Continue reading Amazon Promotes its Series Pilots on YouTube and Facebook

Intel Unveils Mixed Reality Headset, Drone, Joule Maker Board

At the Intel Developer Forum, the company showed several new technology projects, including Project Alloy, an unusual “mixed reality” headset; a quadcopter “ready-to-fly” drone aimed at software developers; and a new Joule maker board designed as a platform for computer vision products. The company, which plans to collaborate with Microsoft on the mixed reality headset, says it does not need to be connected to a high-powered personal computer, as do other headsets, most notably Oculus Rift. Continue reading Intel Unveils Mixed Reality Headset, Drone, Joule Maker Board

Twitter and Pepsi Ink Deal to Add Promoted Stickers to Photos

If you’re in the U.S., India, Russia, Canada or Mexico, the next time you want to tweet a photo, the top stickers will come from PepsiCo. The company, which has created almost 50 different stickers, is Twitter’s first partner in promoted stickers. Of those, only eight will be available to Twitter users, specific to 10 countries, including those listed above. In the U.S, Twitter users have the option of two Pepsi cans side by side, smiley emoji, a barbeque grill, and a ballet dancer’s feet clad in red pointe shoes. Continue reading Twitter and Pepsi Ink Deal to Add Promoted Stickers to Photos

EU Rules to Create Parity Between Internet Apps and Carriers

Deutsche Telekom and Spain’s Telefónica have long lobbied the European Union to either repeal some of the onerous regulations governing carriers or to extend them to Internet-based text-message and voice-call services, including Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook’s WhatsApp. Now, carriers might get their wish as the EU’s executive body is on the verge of suggesting more rules for Skype, WhatsApp and their ilk: tighter privacy and security, and an easier way for consumers to move information when switching services. Continue reading EU Rules to Create Parity Between Internet Apps and Carriers

Nvidia’s New GTX Series Super-Powers Laptops, Enables VR

After first debuting the Maxwell-based GTX 980 graphics chip in a notebook last year, Nvidia has now upped its game, with notebooks and laptops powered by its GTX 1000 series chips, more specifically the GTX 1060, GTX 1070 and GTX 1080. These new GPU chips, which Nvidia declares “VR-ready,” use the company’s more efficient Pascal architecture to provide nearly identical operation to their desktop chips; only the GTX 1060 provides a slightly slower base clock speed in a notebook. Continue reading Nvidia’s New GTX Series Super-Powers Laptops, Enables VR

Spotify Revives ‘Kids’ Category with Early Childhood Learning

Spotify is relaunching its “Kids and Family” category, to focus on young children with vocabulary and language-development activities. An emphasis is on music, which improves language development in children ages 0 to 3. Spotify Kids provides playlists around daily activities such as bedtime, bath time and traveling in a car. As an aid to parents, the playlists come with breaks between songs when a prompt, voiced by a celebrity, offers parents ways to interact with their child. Continue reading Spotify Revives ‘Kids’ Category with Early Childhood Learning

Media Publishers Testing Video Content on Instagram Stories

Many media publishers creating content for Snapchat Discover are now gravitating to the new Instagram Stories. CNN, Food Network, People, Comedy Central, Cosmopolitan and Tastemade are now regularly producing Instagram Stories and respectable numbers of viewers are watching. AwesomenessTV, a tween/teen site, is even running ads on the new platform. Stories on Snapchat and Instagram, which disappear after 24 hours, are a package of phone images and/or videos that are annotated and embellished with graphics and emoticons. Continue reading Media Publishers Testing Video Content on Instagram Stories

NBCU’s BuzzFeed Launches Rio Olympics Snapchat Channel

At the Rio Olympics, a dozen BuzzFeed employees are putting out a daily edition of Snapchat Discover, the first major collaboration since NBCUniversal invested $200 million in BuzzFeed last year. NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel said it was an easy choice to give BuzzFeed the task of producing the daily Olympics Snapchat channel because of the company’s expertise is creating video for social networks. NBCUniversal has also given BuzzFeed “free rein” to create content that will engage Snapchat’s audience. Continue reading NBCU’s BuzzFeed Launches Rio Olympics Snapchat Channel

Samsung Relies on IBM TrueNorth Chip to Create Digital Eye

Samsung created the Dynamic Vision Sensor, a digital eye based on the IBM TrueNorth chip, which relies on neuromorphic computing optimized for low-power processing of large amounts of data. The chip is composed of 4,096 tiny computing cores — which create a million digital brain cells and 256 million connections — sending short messages to one another. The result is a chip that acts similarly to the brain’s neurons. The Dynamic Vision Sensor processes video imagery in which each pixel operates independently. Continue reading Samsung Relies on IBM TrueNorth Chip to Create Digital Eye

Google to Expand Tests of Wireless Internet to 24 Locations

Google has been testing its wireless-transmission technology using the 3.5 GHz band in Kansas City. Now, a redacted Federal Communications Commission filing reveals that the company has plans to set up its experimental transmitters for 24 months at up to 24 locations in the U.S., including Provo, Utah; Omaha, Nebraska; and Boulder, Colorado. The filing shows that Google is asking for authorization to operate in the range of 3.4 to 3.8 GHz, relying on newly available spectrum. Continue reading Google to Expand Tests of Wireless Internet to 24 Locations

IFTTT Enables App-to-App Integration, Connects IoT Devices

IFTTT (“if this, then that”), founded in 2010, automates tasks, such as sending an email when a particular stock goes over a certain price, without the need to write code. Thus far, the user has gone to the IFTTT website or app to connect the tasks in question. Now, IFTTT is enabling developers to embed the integration within apps and users to connect the many apps the service supports. Apps will be able to easily exchange information with other apps, making for an even more user-friendly way of employing the service. Continue reading IFTTT Enables App-to-App Integration, Connects IoT Devices

Beam Acquisition Could Lead to New Xbox Streaming Service

Microsoft just acquired Beam Interactive, a Seattle-based startup that enables games to become more interactive. With a software development kit, Beam allows programmers to tweak existing computer games, such as “Minecraft,” so players can live-stream their gaming sessions to friends. Most players are used to a more passive model of playing, available on YouTube and Twitch, but Beam offers crowdsourced controls to let the player direct the play of the person streaming. Beam launched at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016. Continue reading Beam Acquisition Could Lead to New Xbox Streaming Service

Court Rules Against FCC Effort to Allow Municipal Broadband

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, a federal appellate court, ruled that the Federal Communications Commission overstepped its authority in its effort to eliminate state laws preventing municipal broadband networks. The FCC wanted cities to be able to build their own broadband networks. Last year, Wilson, North Carolina and Chattanooga, Tennessee petitioned the FCC for permission to be able to build out their own networks, to increase competition in their municipalities despite state laws that prevent that. Continue reading Court Rules Against FCC Effort to Allow Municipal Broadband

FX Chief Warns of Runaway TV Production Fueled by Netflix

Next year is shaping up to see another record number of TV productions, mainly propelled by Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. According to FX Networks chief exec John Landgraf, who offered his predictions at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, networks will produce 500 original scripted shows in 2017, nearly 20 percent more than the 419 produced in 2015. As in past years, Landgraf warned of a glut of programming. He earlier coined the term “Peak TV,” suggesting the industry is producing content at a pace that is overwhelming critics and viewers. Continue reading FX Chief Warns of Runaway TV Production Fueled by Netflix

Facebook Unveils Tools, Metrics to Improve Video Production

Not long ago, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg predicted that video would be the dominant means of communication on the social platform. To give that goal a leg up, the company unveiled tools to help video creators improve the odds of engaging audiences. The video analytics include the ability to break down minutes of a video view by age, gender and geographic location. Facebook also introduced tools to help creators tell stories with 360 videos, by enabling a “guide” of story points that viewers can opt to follow. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Tools, Metrics to Improve Video Production