Analyst and venture capitalist Mary Meeker has released her annual Internet Trends report, noting that nearly everything is now being optimized for mobile, online video continues its upward trajectory, global Internet user growth is finally showing signs of slowing (as is smartphone adoption), the on-demand economy is healthier than ever, and diversity increasingly matters to the tech industry. Interestingly, Meeker points out that video was responsible for 64 percent of Internet traffic and 55 percent of mobile traffic last year. Continue reading Mary Meeker: Internet Growth is Slowing, Video Remains King
Justin Lin, who directed four films from the “Fast and Furious” franchise, has been collaborating with Google on a mobile movie project. “Help,” Lin’s five-minute short intended for mobile phones, is being released at the Google I/O developer conference this week. The film tells the story of an alien attack on Los Angeles. It is distributed via a mobile app that enables viewers to explore multiple angles by moving the phone around. Google also recently teamed with animation legend Glen Keane on three animated shorts. Continue reading Google Teams with Director to Create Mobile Spherical Videos
Oculus is still aiming for a Q1 2016 launch of its Oculus Rift consumer version VR headset. During an interview at the Re/code conference this week, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe suggested that a complete Rift system, including a computer, should run in the $1,500 range. According to some quick math by Ars Technica, to build a PC with the specs required to power the system would cost around $900. This equation leaves $600 for the Oculus Rift itself, which may be somewhat high of an estimate. There are too many variables to consider at this point, but we may get more details next month when the company shares its plans for a VR control solution at the E3 show.
Despite concerns that Canada’s new copyright notice-and-notice system requires fine-tuning, early results suggest the approach is effective in decreasing online piracy. Thousands of notifications have been sent by Internet providers to subscribers since the system launched earlier this year. According to CEG TEK, the “massive changes in the Canadian market” include the following decreases in online infringement: Bell Canada (69.6 percent), Telus Communications (54 percent), Shaw Communications (52.1 percent), TekSavvy Solutions (38.3 percent) and Rogers Cable (14.9 percent). Law Professor Michael Geist reports that “the system has proven so successful that a consortium of movie companies now want the U.S. to emulate the Canadian approach.”
Research firm SuperData predicts that revenue from video games and e-sports will soon exceed that of broadcast television to take the No. 2 spot in entertainment behind cable TV. According to SuperData’s “Global Games Market Report – 2015,” the share of the entertainment market held by video games has tripled in the past 30 years. “Mobile makes up the largest revenue segment in SuperData’s study, with $22.3 billion of the overall $74.2 billion total,” notes VentureBeat. “Retail sales follow at $19.7 billion. Free-to-play massively multiplayer online games — think ‘League of Legends’ or ‘World of Tanks’ — come in at about half that, followed by social games, downloadable game content for PC, digital console sales, pay-to-play MMOs, and the rest.”
Chipmaker Nvidia, known primarily for its powerful graphics processors popular with PCs and game consoles, is entering the car automation industry with a new SDK it has begun shipping to notable manufacturers such as Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce and Tesla. “When they’re fully trained up, something that should take at least another couple of years, the cars should be able to work with other systems to make decisions in real time, like when to brake and when to swerve,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The kit is made of two parts: an on-board, car stereo-sized graphics processor packed with image-recognition software, and a larger server which sits at a carmaker’s autonomous car testing lab.”
Oculus Story Studio, a lab program within Oculus VR dedicated to experimentation with the goal of helping virtual reality grow as a platform, is using “Lost Director’s Cut,” a new version of the studio’s short VR film as the basis for a new social experience that promises to change the paradigm of VR experiences from solitary to shared. The purpose of the new demonstration is to show filmmakers and other creatives how far they can push virtual reality beyond current single-person, isolated experiences. Continue reading Oculus Story Studio Explores Ways to Make VR More Social
FOVE, which claims to be the only virtual reality headset with built-in eye-tracking, has surpassed its Kickstarter goal by nearly $100,000 with 37 days left to go in the campaign. A $399 donation awards backers with a headset and development kit, and FOVE plans to deliver both by May 2016. Eye-tracking not only enables users to play games by aiming their eyes, it opens the door to foveated rendering, which reduces the computational demands on real-time processing and provides contextual feedback, avatar eye-mapping, and more. Continue reading FOVE, a VR Headset with Eye-Tracking, Thrives on Kickstarter
Dish Network’s Sling TV, an OTT service designed for cord-cutters, has added support for Android TV devices such as the Google Nexus Player and select 2015 TVs from Sharp and Sony. The Android TV app is now available on Google Play. “Similar to device bundle deals with Roku (for the Roku 3 player and the Roku Streaming Stick) and with Amazon (for the Fire TV box and Fire TV stick), Sling TV is offering the Nexus Player, the first device to run Android TV, at a 50 percent discount when new customers pre-pay for three months of Sling TV,” according to Multichannel News. On the programming front, Sling TV has also expanded its Deportes Extra add-on pack by including ESPN Deportes.
The Moscone Center in San Francisco will open its doors tomorrow for the annual two-day Google I/O developer conference. The event has become a major showcase for the company’s emerging products as well as updates to its existing products. Based on recent leaks and rumors, VentureBeat predicts we may learn something about the following: Android M — the next version of the Android operating system, Brillo — a smart home technology possibly built into the new version of Android, Google Photos — an upcoming photo service (not expected to be built into Google+), the launch of Android Pay, and updates regarding Chromecast, Android Wear, and Material Design guidelines. ETCentric will keep you posted of any major announcements.
Google stopped availability of its Glass wearable in January, but quietly continued its development after transitioning efforts from Google X to Tony Fadell’s team at the company’s Nest division. News broke recently that the team was hiring new engineers to work on “smart eyewear and other related products,” suggesting that Glass and potential spin-off devices may be on the horizon. ReadWrite notes that consumers may react differently this time around in a landscape that seems more open to head-mounted tech such as the Microsoft HoloLens, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. However, the major distinction with Google Glass is that these headsets are not intended to be worn all the time. Some rumors suggest we may learn Google’s plans for Glass at I/O this week.
In its latest effort to better monetize YouTube, Google has introduced new shopping elements to the video site’s skippable pre-roll video ads, known as TrueView ads. “During some TrueView ads, viewers will also see product offers from the same advertiser, with prices, images and a button to click that will take them to the advertiser’s website,” explains The Wall Street Journal. Among the early companies to test the new approach, online furniture retailer Wayfair reports impressive results so far, noting that the elements generated up to three times as much sales revenue as traditional TrueView ads.
Charter Communications has agreed to purchase Time Warner Cable for $55.3 billion in cash and stock. Including the debt Charter will assume, the total deal is valued around $79 billion. The move follows in the wake of Comcast’s attempted bid to acquire TWC. Charter will also move ahead with its purchase of Bright House Networks for $10.4 billion, and the three combined companies would make Charter the second largest TV and Internet provider in the U.S. with 24 million customers. Comcast currently holds the top spot with 27.2 million. Continue reading Charter to Purchase Time Warner Cable in $55.3 Billion Deal
The Secure Content Storage Association (SCSA), the consortium of entertainment and storage companies, announced the final specifications for its new premium content playback technology and gave it a name: Vidity. The solution supports the secure delivery, storage and consumption of movies, including those mastered in 4K and HDR, across multiple devices. Vidity partners include Fox, Warner Bros., Universal, Samsung and Walmart, but neither Disney nor Apple are involved. Compatible products and services are expected to reach market late 2015. Continue reading Vidity to Enable Download of 4K HDR Movies Across Devices
After the Senate declined to reauthorize the bulk collection of phone records, the National Security Agency began shuttering its controversial counter-terrorism program over the weekend. The Senate failed to reach an agreement to extend the program beyond May 31, when the law used to authorize it will expire. Some intelligence and law enforcement officials have argued that the program is crucial to tracking terrorists. While the Senate rejected two bills that would have continued the program, some believe an agreement could still be reached before the deadline. Continue reading NSA Preps Shutdown of Controversial Phone Tracking Program