Companies Experiment With Cinema Subscription Services

MoviePass may be embattled, but its subscription model has taken off. That is most evident with the new service debuted by AMC Theatres, the largest multiplex chain in the U.S. AMC Stubs A-List allows subscribers to see up to three movies a week for $20 per month. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain also will begin testing a service to offer unlimited movies for a monthly fee. Meanwhile, Helios and Matheson Analytics, Movie Pass’ parent company, hopes to raise as much as $1.2 billion to prop up the struggling subscription service. Continue reading Companies Experiment With Cinema Subscription Services

Survey Analyzes Benefits of Mixed Reality in the Workplace

The business uses of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) have so far been impressive. Now, a survey conducted by Microsoft with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, found that 68 percent of 394 executives said MR is important to achieving their companies’ goals in the next 18 months. Those surveyed worked in companies employing over 250 people, in a wide range of industries including engineering, construction, manufacturing, retail, defense and education. Continue reading Survey Analyzes Benefits of Mixed Reality in the Workplace

DeepMind Intros Intriguing Deep Neural Network Algorithm

A research team at Google’s AI unit DeepMind, led by Ali Eslami and Danilo Rezende, has created software via a generative query network (GQN) to create a new perspective of a scene that the neural network has never seen. The U.K.-based unit developed the deep neural network-based software that applies the network to a handful of shots of a virtual scene to create a “compact mathematical representation” of the scene — and then uses that representation to render an image with a new perspective unfamiliar to the network. Continue reading DeepMind Intros Intriguing Deep Neural Network Algorithm

Amazon Faces New Data Issues With Acquisition of PillPack

Amazon acquired online pharmacy PillPack for $1 billion, making it a direct threat to the more than $400 billion pharmaceutical industry. PillPack, a startup founded five years ago, pre-sorts medications and delivers them to customers’ homes in every U.S. state except Hawaii. With the purchase, Amazon will soon have the capability of shipping prescriptions overnight all over the U.S. The e-commerce behemoth will also now have a great deal of information about peoples’ health and prescriptions, a highly regulated arena. Continue reading Amazon Faces New Data Issues With Acquisition of PillPack

Facebook, Twitter Plan to Minimize Disinformation, Bad Ads

Facebook and Twitter will increase scrutiny of the searchable archives of ads running on their sites, to stop fake news in the months leading up to the midterm elections. Twitter is debuting an Ads Transparency Center to open public view of a database of all ads on its platform, having already established the requirement that anyone running a campaign go through a verification process. Facebook, which also has a database of political ads, now plans to make it easier to find background details on all its platforms. Continue reading Facebook, Twitter Plan to Minimize Disinformation, Bad Ads

Facebook Reveals More Data Sharing Details in New Report

Facebook revealed that it made a deal to give dozens of app developers, hardware device manufacturers and software developers special access to user data, despite having stated that it did not release personal information to outsiders starting in 2015. In a 747-page document released to Congress last Friday, Facebook described those deals in much greater detail, and also stated why it believed these special deals were necessary to allow developers and manufacturers to become compliant with changes in its policies. Continue reading Facebook Reveals More Data Sharing Details in New Report

California Passes Tough New Law to Protect Online Privacy

The California State Legislature quickly passed a digital privacy law that gives consumers much more control over their online personal data. Governor Jerry Brown signed the law into effect, narrowly beating a deadline to remove another, tougher initiative headed for the November ballot. Consumers now have the right to know what information tech companies are collecting, and why they’re collecting it, as well as with whom they are sharing it. Consumers can also demand their data be deleted or not sold or shared. Continue reading California Passes Tough New Law to Protect Online Privacy

Music Modernization Act Could Impact Copyright, Licensing

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the Music Modernization Act, which updates music copyright law for the digital age. Tech companies, music publishers, songwriters, musicians and radio broadcasters cooperated to put together the bill, after years of proposing unsuccessful legislation. With this bill closing some of the flaws of past laws, music publishers and streaming services will likely end the constant wrangling and expensive lawsuits that have bedeviled the digital music industry. Continue reading Music Modernization Act Could Impact Copyright, Licensing

Niantic Acquires Matrix Mill to Advance AR Gaming Features

Niantic, the company that released “Pokémon Go,” just acquired Matrix Mill, a U.K.-based computer vision/machine learning startup, with the goal of expanding its augmented reality capabilities. Niantic chief executive John Hanke also stated that the company this year will release a “major update” to its “Ingress” game as well as a new AR game, “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite,” and reveal additional games in the next few weeks. At an event, developers and journalists were able to try out the platform powering these games. Continue reading Niantic Acquires Matrix Mill to Advance AR Gaming Features

ETC Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Studio Tech Leaders

On June 26th at USC’s Town & Gown, ETC@USC convened its annual dinner with studio technology leaders that celebrated the think tank’s 25th anniversary, and honored Dean Elizabeth Daley with the Bob Lambert Technology Leadership Award. The event was presented by Western Digital, with supporting sponsors Equinix and Salesforce, and featured a panel discussion with the technology leaders of 20th Century Fox, Marvel Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Continue reading ETC Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Studio Tech Leaders

Google, Nvidia Train Neural Networks to Post-Process Video

Google researchers have created a machine learning system that adds color to black & white videos, and can also choose which specific objects, people and pets receive the color treatment. The technology is based on what’s called a convolutional neural network, which is architecturally suited for object tracking and video stabilization. Meanwhile, Nvidia has debuted an algorithm that slows down video, without the jitters, after it’s been captured, by using a neural network to create “in between” frames required for smooth motion. Continue reading Google, Nvidia Train Neural Networks to Post-Process Video

Amazon Show Mode Converts Fire Tablets into Echo Shows

Amazon is introducing the Show Mode Charging Dock to provide an easy charge for the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 while keeping them propped up. To debut in a software update on July 2, new Show Mode features will also essentially turn these tablets into a portable Echo Show with weather, time, and news displays in addition to hands-free voice control via Alexa. Putting the tablet on the dock, which aligns via magnets, launches Show Mode; the tablet reverts back to its standard tablet interface when the user removes it from the dock. Continue reading Amazon Show Mode Converts Fire Tablets into Echo Shows

Amazon to Launch Small Delivery Companies for ‘Last Mile’

Amazon is expanding its package delivery business in an interesting way: it’s inviting interested parties to form small delivery companies of up to 100 drivers and to lease between 20 and 40 Amazon vans. In this way, Amazon can quickly expand its “last mile” delivery network into turf now dominated by FedEx and United Parcel Service. The company says it is merely responding to the need to handle an increasing number of orders on its platform; analysts estimate that more than $4 of every $10 spent online is on Amazon. Continue reading Amazon to Launch Small Delivery Companies for ‘Last Mile’

OpenAI Beats Human-Player Team at Complex Video Game

OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research group backed by Elon Musk, stated that its software can beat “teams of five skilled human players” in Valve’s video game “Dota 2.” If verified, the achievement would be a milestone in computer science and a leap beyond other AI researchers working on mastering complex games. IBM’s software mastered chess in the late 1990s, and Alphabet’s DeepMind created software that dominated “Go” in 2016. “Dota 2″ is a multiplayer sci-fi fantasy game where teams advance through exploration. Continue reading OpenAI Beats Human-Player Team at Complex Video Game

Apple to Roll Out Higher-End AirPods, Other Audio Products

Apple is planning to introduce higher-end AirPods, a next-gen HomePod and studio-quality over-ear headphones as early as 2019, say sources. With regard to the new AirPod, which will likely be priced more than the current earbuds’ $159, Apple is trying to increase the range that it can work away from an iPhone or iPad, and is adding noise-cancellation and water resistance against rain and sweat. A wireless charging case compatible with the upcoming AirPower charger is also in the works. Continue reading Apple to Roll Out Higher-End AirPods, Other Audio Products

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