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Two Groups Vie to Form NCAA-Like Organization for eSports

ESports is booming on college campuses; 40 colleges created “varsity” eSports programs, with full-time coaches and staff members, official arenas, player recruitment and eSports scholarships. The NCAA, the main organizing body for collegiate sports, is still mulling over whether eSports is a fit for its qualifications as a sport, even as the Big Ten, the Pacific-12 and colleges begin to look more favorably on accepting it as an athletic endeavor. Meanwhile, grassroots groups are working to create an NCAA-like organization. Read more

Studies Show Smartphones, Social Media Cause Brain Drain

According to data collected by Apple, the typical iPhone owner uses his or her phone 80 times a day, which equals 30,000 times over the year. Now scientists are researching what happens to our minds when our phone is a constant companion that dominates our perception and cognition. What they’ve discovered is that, as our brains become dependent on the phones, our intellect becomes weaker, an effect that continues even when we aren’t using them. There are some in Silicon Valley that are increasingly concerned by the unintended consequences of smartphone and app use. Read more

Discovery and Google Partner on Virtual Reality Travel Series

Discovery and Google are partnering on a 38-episode virtual reality travel series that takes viewers to all seven continents in seven chapters: North and South America, Asia, Australia, Africa, Antarctica, and Europe. Sascha Unseld, who directed the Oculus Story Studio’s “Dear Angelica” VR short, served as creative producer on the series. Discovery has nabbed an exclusive brand sponsor, which will be announced later. VR travel videos are becoming more popular, with immersive videos from airlines, travel agents and others. Read more

LINE’s New Clova Wave Smart Speaker Is Available in Japan

LINE, known for its popular WhatsApp-style mobile messaging platform, has released a $125 smart speaker in Japan named Clova Wave, beating Amazon and Google to market. LINE has more than 220 million messaging users in the region. The company first announced the speaker device at a conference in June, after unveiling its new digital assistant, Clova. LINE also earlier announced a smart speaker called Champ, based on the LINE Friends characters, but no release date was revealed. LINE is a subsidiary of Naver Corp., South Korea’s largest web operator and search portal. Read more

Walmart and Google Debut Voice-Command Online Shopping

Walmart is debuting shopping with voice commands on its website, via Google Home and Google Home Mini devices; it also offers customers $25 off their order if they buy one of the Google devices and link their Walmart account to Google Express’ shopping platform. The result may boost numbers of users who adopt voice shopping, and will also make it easier for customers with Google Home to easily reorder items they’ve previously purchased; with it, Walmart’s ease of shopping rivals Amazon’s Buy Now option and Dash Buttons. Read more

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