Google Unveils Poly API for Adding Free 3D Objects to AR/VR

Google just introduced Poly API, a spin-off of its recently introduced Poly, which is a large collection of royalty-free 3D objects and scenes that developers can integrate into their VR or AR apps and games. Poly API is aimed to allow developers to discover and work with assets in virtual reality. By providing such easy-to-use, high quality assets (which can be modified), Google hopes to help developers speed-up completion of AR and VR apps, thus providing more content for its Daydream platform. Continue reading Google Unveils Poly API for Adding Free 3D Objects to AR/VR

Mozilla Intros Open-Source Speech Recognition, Voice Dataset

Mozilla unveiled Project DeepSpeech and Project Common Voice to leverage the capabilities of speech recognition. The company says it has just reached “two important milestones” in the project out of its Machine Learning Group. Mozilla is releasing its open source speech recognition model, which it states is nearly as accurate as what humans can perceive from the same recordings, and is also unveiling the world’s second largest publicly available voice dataset, with contributions by almost 20,000 people around the world. Continue reading Mozilla Intros Open-Source Speech Recognition, Voice Dataset

Unity, Filmmaker Neill Blomkamp Partner on Creative Project

Game engine Unity and filmmaker Neill Blomkamp (“Elysium,” “District 9”) have partnered to create a more fleshed out version of “Adam,” a short proof-of-concept film that Unity released to show off its Cinemachine movie creation tools. At the same time, Unity debuted a new version of Cinemachine, software that allows users to direct their own CG films. Blomkamp is an ideal partner, having just launched his own studio, Oats, and released three videos (“Rakka,” “Firebase,” “Zygote”) and other shorter projects. Continue reading Unity, Filmmaker Neill Blomkamp Partner on Creative Project

Verizon Plans to Introduce 5G Residential Broadband in 2018

In late 2018, Verizon Communications will begin to sell 5G home broadband services in three to five cities, first in Sacramento, California. All these cities are expected to be outside the Northeast U.S. region where it has a landline business and also offers its FiOS high-speed fiber-optic Internet service. To access the 5G signal, customers will have a box in their windows to convert it to Wi-Fi inside the house. If Verizon succeeds, it could compete in cities where most users have access to only one broadband provider. Continue reading Verizon Plans to Introduce 5G Residential Broadband in 2018

GM Close to Commercial Version of Autonomous Chevy Bolt

GM is showing off its latest autonomous vehicles, battery-powered Chevrolet Bolts, to investment analysts in San Francisco. Up until now, the car manufacturer has been reluctant to subject the cars it’s developed through its Cruise Automation subsidiary to scrutiny, but now wants to signal that it’s getting closer to a real product. In fact, GM president Daniel Ammann revealed that the driverless cars will be ready for consumers in “quarters, not years.” GM also aims to launch a driverless taxi fleet by 2019. Continue reading GM Close to Commercial Version of Autonomous Chevy Bolt

AWS Expands Cloud Efforts with New Machine-Learning Tools

To compete in the profitable cloud-computing arena, Amazon Web Services debuted 20 new machine-learning tools this week at the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. Tools include speech recognition and algorithms to automate decisions. The move helps Amazon compete better with Google and Microsoft, both of which are using their expertise in AI and machine learning to cut into its market share. Machine learning will also help potential developers that can’t create these capabilities on their own. Analysts estimate that Amazon dominates the cloud with a 44 percent market share. Continue reading AWS Expands Cloud Efforts with New Machine-Learning Tools

Amazon Enters the Workplace with Bow of Alexa for Business

Amazon, which currently dominates the virtual assistant market with its Echo speaker, is now launching Alexa for Business. With Alexa for Business, offices could potentially use the voice-enabled assistant to take care of numerous tasks. It’s a leap of faith since it is still unproven how many businesses would want to install an Echo in every conference room, design relevant programs or even want their employees talking to devices. Companies might also have concerns about sensitive internal information being in the cloud. Continue reading Amazon Enters the Workplace with Bow of Alexa for Business

Snapchat Redesign Aims to Curb Fake News, Boost Revenue

Snap Inc. just unveiled a remake of Snapchat that, thus far, has been identifiable for its posts that disappear after 24 hours, smaller social circles and human editing and curation. In its new incarnation, Snapchat separates the social and media into two parts. On the left side of the app, users will see chats and stories shared with friends. On the right side, they’ll find content from DIY creators, publishers, celebrities and Snap-curated content. Part of the reason for the redo is Snap’s disappointing user and revenue numbers. Continue reading Snapchat Redesign Aims to Curb Fake News, Boost Revenue

Comcast, Charter Reportedly In Talks to Ink Deals With Hulu

Comcast and Charter Communications are reportedly in talks with Hulu to offer its on-demand content via their set-top boxes. Currently, Comcast offers Dish Network’s Sling TV, Netflix and YouTube with its X1 service, which offers voice-activated search for movies and TV shows. Comcast’s goal is to become a “one-stop shop” for digital video services, says company executive vice president Matt Strauss. Sources say that Charter is also on track to add Netflix via a new user interface for web video. Continue reading Comcast, Charter Reportedly In Talks to Ink Deals With Hulu

Samsung Begins Installation of ‘Cinema LED’ Movie Screens

After introducing its Samsung Cinema LED during CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Samsung announced that it is debuting the movie theater screen in Europe, with plans for more global markets including the U.S. in 2018. The Samsung Cinema LED screen’s first commercial installation was in South Korea in July, with another in Bangkok, Thailand a few months later. The first European installation will be at Arena Cinemas in Zurich, Switzerland. The screen displays 33.6 x 17.8 feet and supports 4K resolution and high-dynamic range images. Continue reading Samsung Begins Installation of ‘Cinema LED’ Movie Screens

Newzoo Global Games Report Notes Big Uptick in Revenues

Newzoo revealed that the global game market is on track to reach $116 billion in revenues this year, up 10.7 percent from the previous year and more than $7.1 billion than Newzoo’s previous estimate. Mobile gaming revenue is responsible for some of the unexpected increase, revised from $46.1 billion to $50.4 billion. Revenue figures from China and Japan are another bright spot. ESports is another sector showing strength, with total revenues possibly reaching $2.5 billion by 2020, $1 billion more than originally anticipated. Continue reading Newzoo Global Games Report Notes Big Uptick in Revenues

AWS Rolls Out Elemental Media Services for Video Providers

Amazon Web Services debuted AWS Elemental Media Services this week at the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. The suite includes five services, three based on existing AWS Elemental products and two new services. Announced by AWS chief marketing officer Keith Wymbs, the existing three products include live compression engine MediaLive, packaging technology MediaPackage and file-to-file transcoding engine MediaConvert. The two new services are MediaStore, for video delivery from storage optimized for media, and MediaTailor, a targeted ad insertion program. Continue reading AWS Rolls Out Elemental Media Services for Video Providers

Plex DVR Exits Beta With New Commercial-Removal Feature

Plex started out as a simple home media server and has evolved into a cloud-based platform that offers streaming personalized news and a full-featured DVR. The company has now added a new DVR feature, via an update, that automatically removes commercials. Most of the update fixed bugs; this new feature must be manually enabled in the Plex DVR settings, which now offers a “Remove Commercials” option. Users should, however, pay attention to reports from other users and the setting’s description. Continue reading Plex DVR Exits Beta With New Commercial-Removal Feature

Bitcoin and Virtual Currencies Skyrocket, Skeptics Concerned

The price of a single Bitcoin just reached $10,000 on some exchanges, two months after it topped $5,000 for the first time. That’s a stupendous and unprecedented uptick, given that the Dow Jones Industrial Average in its biggest year (1915) went up 82 percent, which equates to one-tenth of Bitcoin’s rise. The price has been pushed upwards by new buyers from around the globe — Japan and South Korea are hotspots — enticed with the idea of storing money outside of the control of governments and companies. Continue reading Bitcoin and Virtual Currencies Skyrocket, Skeptics Concerned

Snapchat Intros Wide-Reach Promoted Stories for Advertisers

On Black Friday, Snapchat introduced Promoted Stories, a new advertising format that allows marketers to get their messages to more users. The company’s existing Story feature is a stitched-together collection of photos and videos that disappears 24 hours after it is shared. Any Snapchat user (including a business or brand) can create a Story, but it will only be visible to that user’s followers. Promoted Stories, however, which will appear on the Stories page in the Snapchat app, will be pushed out around the country. Continue reading Snapchat Intros Wide-Reach Promoted Stories for Advertisers

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