Anime Strike: Amazon’s First Branded Subscription Channel

Amazon is launching Anime Strike, its first on-demand subscription service for Amazon Channels, available in the U.S. to Prime members for $4.99/month. The channel will offer more than 1,000 ad-free series episodes and movies, including same-day-broadcasts from Japanese series including “Scum’s Wish” (“Kuzu no Honkai”) and “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” (“Ao No Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen”). Also featured will be older anime titles including “Paprika,” “Tokyo Godfathers” and “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS.” Continue reading Anime Strike: Amazon’s First Branded Subscription Channel

FCC TV Airwaves Auction Reaps Disappointing $18.2 Billion

The Federal Communications Commission’s auction of TV airwaves, nearing its end, has brought in about $18.2 billion in bids. That figure is far less than the last sale of government licenses, due, say analysts, to a lack of interest in low-frequency television airwaves. The spectrum auction enabled TV stations to sell their airwaves, which would be repurposed for use by the mobile industry. But potential buyers are apparently more interested in airwaves that “can carry more data over short distances.” Continue reading FCC TV Airwaves Auction Reaps Disappointing $18.2 Billion

Fox Plans to Live-Stream Super Bowl, Will Include Local Ads

On February 5, the Super Bowl will be available for free online as a live stream (with no need for pay-TV credentials) and will include dynamically-inserted local advertising based on the viewer’s location. More than 170 affiliates will team with Fox Sports to deliver the digital ads. “The national ads will be the same on both TV and online, and the live-stream will include the halftime show featuring Lady Gaga,” reports Variety. Coverage “will be available live on Fox Sports Go, the broadcaster’s streaming platform … on iOS, Android, Windows and Amazon tablets; and through connected devices including Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Microsoft Xbox One.” Continue reading Fox Plans to Live-Stream Super Bowl, Will Include Local Ads

Retailers Push AR Shopping Apps for Tango-Equipped Phones

While most consumers may currently think of gaming or video when they hear “augmented reality,” retailers are experimenting with a new batch of AR apps that leverage mixed reality tech. For example, Amazon’s Product Preview lets shoppers visualize different TV sizes and brands in their homes, Lowe’s Vision accepts measurements to map out placement of kitchen appliances, and WayfairView helps consumers place new sofas and cabinets with their existing furniture. Gap plans to launch DressingRoom on Google Play at the end of the month, providing users with the ability to dress virtual mannequins with different clothing options. Continue reading Retailers Push AR Shopping Apps for Tango-Equipped Phones

Digital Assistants Grab Spotlight at CES, Alexa Leads the Pack

Virtual assistants that serve as a new voice-activated hub to the connected smart home and our ecosystem of personal electronics have grabbed the spotlight at this year’s CES. Aided by advances in artificial intelligence software that enable improved speech interaction with devices, tech giants such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others are battling for dominance in the digital assistant space. These companies are looking beyond smartphones and PCs toward a world in which voice-based systems become a standard feature in TVs, cable boxes, home appliances and connected vehicles. If the headlines are any indication, it seems that Amazon’s Alexa has taken an early lead in this race. Continue reading Digital Assistants Grab Spotlight at CES, Alexa Leads the Pack

Samsung Updates Smart Hub with Emphasis on Sports, Music

Searching for and organizing content is a fact of life with smart TVs. Samsung has updated its Smart Hub to make that experience — on the TV and smartphone — much easier, especially with regard to sports and music. The company demonstrated its new Smart Hub “experience” at CES 2017. The user no longer needs to search for where his or her favorite team can be found on OTA channels and streaming services. Instead, the user tells the Hub what teams he follows, and the Smart TV will give him channels, schedules and scores. For music, Samsung’s Hub now offers Shazam. Continue reading Samsung Updates Smart Hub with Emphasis on Sports, Music

Walmart Plans Job Cuts and Continues its E-Commerce Push

Walmart is expected to cut about 1,000 jobs by the end of January, before the close of its fiscal year. “The plans mark one of Walmart’s largest rounds of corporate job cuts as it works to preserve profits while making the company more efficient and responsive to fast-changing consumer behaviors,” reports The Wall Street Journal. According to CEO Doug McMillon, the company’s chief information officer, Karenann Terrell, will step down in February. Other retailers have been making similar moves; Macy’s recently announced it would close stores and cut 10,000 jobs. Walmart is working to fend off Amazon and smaller discounters. The retail giant purchased Jet.com in September, and its founder, Marc Lore, took over the e-commerce business. Continue reading Walmart Plans Job Cuts and Continues its E-Commerce Push

Emotech Demos Olly: Your Lifestyle Assistant with Personality

At CES last week, Emotech, a UK-based startup, introduced a desktop robotic assistant named Olly that develops a unique personality depending on individual users and their interactions with it. The doughnut-shaped, voice-controlled personal assistant is similar in function to the other smart lifestyle assistants. It will play you music or tell you the weather like Amazon’s Alexa, but the company hopes Olly’s personality will set it apart. The device has two cameras and a microphone array, allowing it to face the user, and will use a combination of AI techniques to decipher a user’s state of mind and respond accordingly. Continue reading Emotech Demos Olly: Your Lifestyle Assistant with Personality

CES 2017: The Need for a “Connective Architecture” for Data

Data about your heart. Data about your workout. Data about your sleep. Data about your posture, your focus, your shoes, your pictures, your wallet, your fridge, your front door, your light bulb, your bike, your neighbor, your chair, your car, your desk, your tea, your bikini (?!)… Walking the aisles of CES 2017 last week was a bit like peering into a dystopian feedback loop hell where every single physical object we touch is touching us back — with petabytes of fragmented data and exactly zero intelligence. Here lies the dilemma: While everyone is invested in building the sensor network, nobody is building the brain. Continue reading CES 2017: The Need for a “Connective Architecture” for Data

CES: Glance Clock Provides New Uses for a Familiar Object

Glance Clock offers a visual solution for dealing with daily information overload. The stylish modern clock is linked by Bluetooth for proximity response or Wi-Fi for building wide connections to mobile phones. The device highlights select information as it updates on a smartphone or digital assistant. Calendars break down the day in colorful graphics on the clock face. Users can highlight notifications about to-do items and important events, anniversaries and more. Weather forecasts are announced by colorful animations and related details. As a direct indication of wider scale ambient reach, it also can display responses from Alexa or announce an Uber arrival with visuals and sounds. Continue reading CES: Glance Clock Provides New Uses for a Familiar Object

NAGRA to Roll Out Secure Platform for Content Distribution

As studios and exhibitors grapple to find a way to alter the movie release window to serve the changing audience for movies, NAGRA unveiled Early @t Home, a new platform aimed at both studios and exhibitors, at CES in Las Vegas. The platform combines NAGRA’s secure cloud solution with purpose-built hardware to enable content creators, studios, and theater chains to use “first release content” to directly connect with the consumer. The platform offers access to real-time analytics and provides a unique engagement opportunity through synchronized extras that could include complementary virtual and augmented reality experiences. The HD and UHD hardware solutions are priced to compete with other media dongles, but do not require specific app development. Continue reading NAGRA to Roll Out Secure Platform for Content Distribution

Pogue’s Last Gadget Standing Showcases New CE Devices

Last Gadget Standing, which took place at the LVCC on Saturday, January 7, is a well-loved event in its 16th year. Created by Living in Digital Times founder Robin Raskin and guest emceed by journalist David Pogue, the event chooses — by live and online audiences — the “most likely to succeed product.” The live event’s winner — which is chosen by an applause meter — was the Matrix PowerWatch, which is powered by the wearer’s body heat. The online winner was the Linksys Velop, a whole home wireless mesh system for robust Wi-Fi. Continue reading Pogue’s Last Gadget Standing Showcases New CE Devices

CES 2017: Distinguishing Between Machine Learning and AI

As predicted, artificial intelligence has been one of the most repeated phrases of CES 2017. It seems every other vendor here is slapping the “AI” label on its technology. So much so that it inspired us to take a (short) step back and look at what AI is in relation to machine learning. The reality is: there are still very few applications that can be legitimately labeled as artificial intelligence. Self-driving cars, DeepMind’s AlphaGo, Hanson Robotics’ Sophia robot, and to a lesser extent Alexa, Siri and the Google Assistant, are all AI applications. Most of the rest, and certainly most of what we’ve seen here at CES, are robust, well productized machine learning applications (usually built on neural network architectures), often marketed as AI. Continue reading CES 2017: Distinguishing Between Machine Learning and AI

Nvidia CEO Announces Cloud-Based GeForce NOW Platform

During his CES keynote, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced the launch of his company’s GeForce NOW streaming platform for PCs, “basically a GeForce gaming PC on demand,” explained Huang. The cloud-based gaming service will launch in March for $25 dollars per 20 hours of gameplay. The service will provide Mac and PC users who might not have the graphics capabilities to play high-end games an option to virtually play any modern game. The new approach should not rely on game company support the way OnLive worked before its demise. For example, Huang demonstrated the Steam store running on GeForce NOW. Continue reading Nvidia CEO Announces Cloud-Based GeForce NOW Platform

Panel Weighs Possibility of a Single Global Drone Regulation

A CES 2017 panel on drones and regulation, led by CTA vice president of tech policy Doug Johnson, brought together representatives from the U.S., U.K., Mexico and Singapore. By the time the session was over, Jaime Reyes Robles, secretary of innovation, science and technology for the state of Jalisco in Mexico, had exchanged cards and the possibility for meetings with Federal Aviation Administration’s Marke “Hoot” Gibson and Amazon vice president for global innovation policy and communications Paul Misener. Continue reading Panel Weighs Possibility of a Single Global Drone Regulation

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