TheTake Looks to Convert Product Recognition to B2B Service

TheTake, a startup that helps viewers purchase the products that they see in movies and television shows, is now turning its image recognition technology into a business-to-business service. The company is selling the service to major studios and entertainment sites so that they can generate extra revenue from identifying marketable products and locations. TheTake built the technology by training an AI to look for matches from the company’s database of more than 10 million products. Continue reading TheTake Looks to Convert Product Recognition to B2B Service

BuzzFeed News Tries to Expose Readers to Outside Viewpoints

BuzzFeed has introduced a new feature that is intended to help readers understand ideas that differ from the views held in their network of friends. The “Outside Your Bubble” feature will appear at the bottom of BuzzFeed News articles and a staff member will curate content for the feature from social media platforms and other sources. Because of the algorithms behind social media and search results, many people are living in “filter bubbles,” where they are only exposed to ideas that are similar to their own. Continue reading BuzzFeed News Tries to Expose Readers to Outside Viewpoints

WhatsApp Introduces New Feature Emulating Snapchat Stories

Messaging app WhatsApp has launched a new image-based Status feature that allows users to post a disappearing Status update, which erases after 24 hours just like Snapchat Stories. Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, has a pattern of integrating Snapchat-like features into its apps, such as Instagram and Facebook Messenger. With the new Status feature, a major departure for the text-based application, WhatsApp hopes to capitalize on the success of the format that Snapchat originated, which emphasizes videos and ephemeral content. Continue reading WhatsApp Introduces New Feature Emulating Snapchat Stories

European Broadcasters Create Web Videos for Young Viewers

While U.S. networks primarily repost their broadcast television shows online, European broadcasters are taking a different approach by producing short-form Web series that are created specifically for mobile viewing. The new shows are a way for broadcasters to compete with the growing popularity of Netflix and Amazon, while creating a new revenue stream as mobile advertising sales are expected to surge 82 percent in the next two years. The ads for these shows are often targeted at younger audiences who are more likely to be watching on the go. Continue reading European Broadcasters Create Web Videos for Young Viewers

Google Home Adds Feature to Purchase Home Goods by Voice

Consumers can now use the voice-controlled Google Assistant on Google Home to order products and supplies and get them delivered within a few hours. The products and delivery times vary based on where the user lives, and Google has partnered with brands such as Costco, Walgreens and Whole Foods to supply the goods. Customers using the new feature either pay a delivery fee for each purchase or subscribe to the Google Express delivery service. The Amazon Echo smart speaker already has a voice-powered purchasing capability. Continue reading Google Home Adds Feature to Purchase Home Goods by Voice

Visa and IBM to Extend Digital Payments to Connected Devices

Visa and IBM are partnering to make electronic payments easier in the emerging Internet of Things era. The two companies envision a commerce-based IoT ecosystem that extends digital payment capabilities to smart devices, including vehicles, wearables, and appliances. Drivers, for example, could pay for gas, parking, or oil changes before stepping out of their connected cars. Watson’s IoT platform would handle the AI tech, while mobile payment solution Visa Token Service would address digital transactions. Continue reading Visa and IBM to Extend Digital Payments to Connected Devices

Signal App Update Adds Ability to Make Encrypted Video Calls

The Signal app from non-profit Open Whisper Systems provides end-to-end encrypted messaging, voice calling, and now video chatting. The new feature, along with improved voice calling functionality, comes as part of a beta update for the app’s Android and iOS versions. Signal is a popular choice for activists and journalists who need a private communications platform, but it is still struggling to find a foothold in the mainstream because it sacrifices some popular features for security.  Continue reading Signal App Update Adds Ability to Make Encrypted Video Calls

Apple to Roll Out Original Video Programming via Apple Music

Apple is joining the ranks of Amazon and Netflix in creating original series specifically intended for online platforms. However, unlike its competitors, Apple does not have a devoted video platform, so it plans to create original content for its Apple Music streaming service that can be viewed on Apple TVs, iPads, iPhones and other devices. So far, Apple is developing a reality series called “Planet of the Apps” and a standalone series based on James Corden’s popular “Carpool Karaoke.” Continue reading Apple to Roll Out Original Video Programming via Apple Music

Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

The Ford Motor Company is extending its foray into self-driving car technology with a $1 billion investment in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence startup. The newly formed startup, led by former Google and Uber self-driving experts, will initially develop the technology for Ford before licensing it to other companies. The move is part of Ford’s strategy to rebrand itself as more than a car manufacturer. The billion-dollar investment will roll out over the next five years. Argo AI will become a subsidiary of Ford that operates out of Pittsburgh, one of the main hubs of autonomous driving research. Continue reading Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

Facebook Will Submit to Audit to Offer Ad Data Transparency

Facebook is answering criticism from advertisers to provide more precise data about the reach of digital ads. The social network agreed to an audit of the audience measurements and other information that it provides to advertisers. Marketers pay based on the number of times an ad is viewed, but media companies count views differently based on whether the sound was on or if the viewer watched the entire ad. Advertisers are calling for ad platforms to increase transparency. Facebook will allow the Media Rating Council to conduct an audit of the data that the company reports to its advertisers. Continue reading Facebook Will Submit to Audit to Offer Ad Data Transparency

Smart Nano Drone Packs Big Features into Tiny Flying Machine

The ONAGOfly drone fits in the palm of your hand, but it comes with built-in features that are comparable with bigger and more expensive drones. The $259 flying camera system captures 1080p HD video and has smile-recognition technology and auto-follow technology to help operators capture the perfect shot. As far as safety, the ONAGOfly has obstacle avoidance sensors and can withstand wind speeds of up to 3.3 m/s. The drone is so small that it doesn’t even need to be registered with the FAA. Continue reading Smart Nano Drone Packs Big Features into Tiny Flying Machine

Amazon Plans to Open Additional Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores

Although not on the scale originally reported, online retailer Amazon is expanding its business to more physical storefronts. Amazon opened its first brick-and-mortar store last year in Seattle. The store features thousands of books alongside Amazon’s electronic devices, including the Kindle tablet, the Fire TV set-top box, and the Echo Internet-connected speaker. The expansion of the brick-and-mortar side of the business suggests that the appeal of browsing shelves, particularly for book aficionados, isn’t quite yet lost. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Open Additional Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores

SoftBank to Launch App Store for its Pepper Robots This Month

SoftBank’s Pepper humanoid robots are already interacting with customers at shops and banks in Japan. Later this month, the robots will be introduced to more advanced functions after SoftBank opens a planned app store offering software that will help track customer’s behavior and improve communication with customers. The Pepper robots, which are designed to feature human-like body language and work in retail, have reportedly been selling out regularly since last year’s launch. Continue reading SoftBank to Launch App Store for its Pepper Robots This Month

YouTube’s Fine Brothers Abandon Plans for ‘React’ Licensing

The Fine Brothers will not be expanding their empire of “React” videos after all, at least not at the expense of fan content creators. The popular comedy duo is reversing its plans to grant licensing to YouTube creators making their own “React” videos after their channel lost 300,000 subscribers in less than a week. Many fans resented the idea of the Fine Brothers’ ownership of an entire genre of videos that has existed long before the brothers’ popular YouTube channel. Continue reading YouTube’s Fine Brothers Abandon Plans for ‘React’ Licensing

Samsung Rolls Out Ad Blocking, Google Boots Ad Blocker Apps

After Samsung launched ad-blocking support for the Samsung Internet Browser on its mobile devices, third-party ad blocking apps shot up to the top of the Google Play app store. Google pulled them from the store soon after because the tech giant does not want to distribute apps that conflict with its own advertising business. Although Google is removing ad blocking apps, it has not taken any action to remove mobile browser apps that feature ad blocking already built-in. Continue reading Samsung Rolls Out Ad Blocking, Google Boots Ad Blocker Apps

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