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Amazon Will Raise the Price of Prime Membership Next Month

Amazon announced that it plans to raise the price of its annual Prime membership from $99 to $119 in the U.S. The move marks the first increase since 2014 when the shipping and entertainment membership program cost $79 per year. New subscribers will pay $119 a year starting May 11, while the new fee will apply to current members beginning with renewals on June 16. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently revealed that Prime has more than 100 million global members. The company surprised investors this week with news that it had more than doubled its quarterly profits to $1.6 billion. Read more

YouTube Launches Parental Control Features for Kids Service

Since YouTube debuted YouTube Kids three years ago, parents have complained about their ability to control the content. Now, the company is adding three features to respond to those concerns. A white-list feature parents requested allows them to handpick the content for their children. The company also introduced pre-screened content with partners, including, initially, Sesame Workshop and PBS Kids. Third is an option to set search settings to only permit channels “verified by the YouTube Kids team.” Read more

Multiplayer Games Led by ‘Fortnite’ Are Driving Headset Sales

According to NPD Group, Epic Games’ survival shooter game “Fortnite” and other PlayStation, Xbox and PC multiplayer games are driving sales of headsets to gamers who like to talk to other gamers while they play. NPD, which tracks the $36 billion U.S. videogame industry, added that sales of game accessories and gift cards have now risen to $372 million. This record-breaking sales number is due to the popularity of multiplayer games, said NPD analyst Mat Piscatella, who pointed to “Fortnite,” which has become a smash hit. Read more

Supreme Court Ruling Confirms Internal U.S. Patent Reviews

In a 7-2 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an inter partes review (IPR) at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does not violate a defendant’s constitutional right to have a case determined by a federal court and jury. Congress created the process in 2011 to handle the large number of flimsy patent applications. The Houston-based Oil States International brought the case; pharmaceutical companies also called the IPR process “a threat to innovation.” Justices John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch were the dissenting votes. Read more

Nvidia’s New AI Method Can Reconstruct an Image in Seconds

Nvidia debuted a deep learning method that can edit or reconstruct an image that is missing pixels or has holes via a process called “image inpainting.” The model can handle holes of “any shape, size, location or distance from image borders,” and could be integrated in photo editing software to remove undesirable imagery and replace it with a realistic digital image – instantly and with great accuracy. Previous AI-based approaches focused on rectangular regions in the image’s center and required post processing. Read more

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