Streaming Audio Gets Better with Free Lossless Audio Codec

The quality of digital audio has waxed and waned since storage migrated from physical media to files stored on devices or in the cloud. Up until now, large technology companies such as Apple have been the ones making audio developments, such as taking MP3 mainstream with the iTunes Music Store in 2003. Increases in bandwidth have helped improve the quality of streaming audio. Consumers have pushed for better audio, and now some music services have adopted FLAC, a Free Lossless Audio Codec that is changing the game. Continue reading Streaming Audio Gets Better with Free Lossless Audio Codec

ETC Panel: USC Students Discuss the Future of Entertainment

The ETC invited nine undergraduate students from the USC School of Cinematic Arts to the December 13, 2018 All Members Meeting to discuss their impressions regarding the future of entertainment. Click here for a six-minute highlight reel from that one-hour conversation, featuring student perspectives on immersive storytelling, social media, content distribution and more. ETC plans to produce student discussions at least quarterly in 2019 — twice at our Executive Board Meetings and twice for our All Members Meetings. We encourage everyone at an ETC-member company to attend (as appropriate) and ask questions at these future sessions. Continue reading ETC Panel: USC Students Discuss the Future of Entertainment

CES: The Era of Screens in Contact Lenses May Be Upon Us

Beneficial Vision smart contact lenses from Care Harmony Corp. use a variety of technologies distributed among wearable devices to deliver monochromatic text and video images through contact lenses. The smart lenses contain an outer ring of rechargeable batteries and lasers that use wave-guide technology to project an image into the central area of the contact lens. In addition to delivering audio, wireless earbuds track head position and send that information to the contacts, so the projected image can appear to be a stable overlay in a fixed position in the real world when you move your head. Continue reading CES: The Era of Screens in Contact Lenses May Be Upon Us

Samsung Likely to Enable Third-Party Assistants in 2019 TVs

At CES 2019, when Samsung introduces its latest line-up of TVs, it might also unveil plans to integrate Google Assistant into its 2019 TV sets, according to sources. The company is expected to place a bigger emphasis on audio quality, and might also offer features in its TVs that are similar to Apple’s HomePod, which “tunes” music to its environment. Samsung wouldn’t comment on these plans, but did highlight the 2019 models of its Frame and Serif TVs. In 2018, Samsung added Bixby, its own voice assistant, to that year’s TV lineup. Continue reading Samsung Likely to Enable Third-Party Assistants in 2019 TVs

LG to Unveil the Market’s Lightest 17-Inch Laptop PC at CES

LG Electronics will introduce the world’s lightest 17-inch laptop during CES in January. The new LG gram 17 weighs a mere 1,340 grams (as compared to the 2,000+ grams of comparable laptops), while offering a 17-inch WQXGA 16:10 display featuring 2560 x 1600 resolution, making it ideal for streaming video, playing games and editing multiple documents simultaneously. The company will also unveil the 14-inch LG gram 2-in-1 convertible with digital pen support that features a 360-degree hinge, enabling it to function as a laptop or a tablet. Both devices have been named 2019 CES Innovation Award winners. Continue reading LG to Unveil the Market’s Lightest 17-Inch Laptop PC at CES

New Alexa Speaking Style Created by Neural Text-to-Speech

Amazon is training Alexa to speak like a newscaster, a feature that will roll out in a few weeks. The new speaking style is based on Amazon’s neural text-to-speech (NTTS) developments. The new voice style doesn’t sound human, but does stress words as a TV or radio announcer would. Before creating this voice, Amazon did a survey that showed that users prefer this newscaster style when listening to articles. The new voice is also an example of “the next generation of speech synthesis,” based on machine learning. Continue reading New Alexa Speaking Style Created by Neural Text-to-Speech

YouTube Doubles Down Against Article 13, Industry Responds

YouTube’s global head of music Lyor Cohen recently published an op-ed in the U.K.’s Music Business Worldwide redoubling YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki’s impassioned blog posts against the EU Copyright Directive’s Article 13. He insisted that, under Article 13, “artists, labels and the entire music industry … will make less money from YouTube, not more” and that “emerging artists will find it harder to be discovered and heard on the global stage.” The music industry has rebutted his arguments. Continue reading YouTube Doubles Down Against Article 13, Industry Responds

Pandora and Spotify Bring Streaming Experience to Podcasts

Podcasting is growing popular among a younger demographic, and now Pandora and Spotify are leveraging their music streaming experience in an effort to engage those listeners. The main challenge with podcasting is discoverability. Pandora Media chief executive Roger Lynch characterizes podcast discovery as “the Stone Age” compared to music discovery. He believes that the company can bring people in to listen to a podcast and keep them on the platform with music. Neither company revealed details of its podcast businesses. Continue reading Pandora and Spotify Bring Streaming Experience to Podcasts

Hive Builds Tailored AI Models via 700,000-Person Workforce

Hive, a startup founded by Kevin Guo and Dmitriy Karpman, trains domain-specific artificial intelligence models via its 100 employees and 700,000 workers who classify images and transcribe audio. The company uses the Hive Work smartphone app and website to recruit the people who label the data, and recently introduced three products: Hive Data, Hive Predict, and Hive Enterprise. Shortly after the product launch, Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and other venture capital firms invested $30 million in the startup. Continue reading Hive Builds Tailored AI Models via 700,000-Person Workforce

Rabbit Updates Features for More Versatile Social TV Viewing

Rabbit, which lets users watch online videos with friends, is updating its features, adding real-time and delayed viewing among others to the mobile/web platform. Company chief executive Amanda Richardson noted that Rabbit’s ability to “let you watch any video content with anyone, anywhere in the world, at the same time, is unmatched.” The 30-employer Rabbit, launched in 2015, now has 3.6 million monthly active viewers and has experienced a two-time to three-time growth year over year. Continue reading Rabbit Updates Features for More Versatile Social TV Viewing

Google Ups Investment in YouTube’s Anti-Piracy Content ID

Google has updated how it is combatting piracy across its suite of digital products. In its report “How Google Fights Piracy,” the company revealed that it has spent more than $100 million on YouTube’s Content ID since its inception, representing a big bump up from $60 million two years ago. That number includes computing resources and staffing. The report further details that it has paid out more than $3 billion to rightsholders, compared to “over $2 billion” in 2016 and $1 billion in 2014. Continue reading Google Ups Investment in YouTube’s Anti-Piracy Content ID

EA Announces New AI-Powered, Cloud-Native Gaming Tech

Electronic Arts unveiled Project Atlas, its “cloud-native gaming” technology, via a Medium blog post by chief technology officer Ken Moss. Although he did not say when it would be fully deployed and functional, Moss described Project Atlas as designed to “harness the massive power of cloud computing and artificial intelligence and putting it into the hands of game makers in a powerful, easy to use, one-stop experience.” The game engine combines rendering, game logic, physics, animation, audio, and more. Continue reading EA Announces New AI-Powered, Cloud-Native Gaming Tech

IFPI: Music Streaming Continues its Growth, As Does Piracy

According to an annual report released by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), music streaming is continuing to rise, with 86 percent of respondents ages 16-64 in 20 top global markets opting for streaming. The report notes that 57 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds use a paid audio service. While nearly half of the time consuming on-demand music is via YouTube, the report finds that terrestrial radio is still relevant. And even though popular streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music have brought growth to the industry, piracy still remains a problem. Continue reading IFPI: Music Streaming Continues its Growth, As Does Piracy

Amazon Eyes Video With New Echo Show and Fire TV Recast

Amazon announced plans last week to introduce a range of new devices intended for the automotive, home security, and premium audio markets. The Seattle-based tech giant also unveiled updated versions of its Echo Plus, Dot and Show smart speakers as well as other Alexa-powered devices including a wall clock and microwave oven. In addition to more than a dozen new voice-powered products, the company revealed the Fire TV Recast that enables consumers to view and record live television via a connected digital antenna. The content can be streamed inside and outside the user’s home. Continue reading Amazon Eyes Video With New Echo Show and Fire TV Recast

Apple TV Offers a Turnkey Premium Format With Dolby Atmos

Apple TV 4K, with the launch of tvOS 12, is about to get Dolby Atmos surround sound. Dolby Atmos, initially launched in movie theaters, differs from other cinema surround sound systems by replacing a fixed number of audio channels with the concept of audio “objects.” With Atmos, sound designers and mixers can manipulate each sound as an audio “object” and place it anywhere inside the “virtual” theater. When Atmos is played back in a real theater, the mix is mapped to the speakers to recreate the original intent. Continue reading Apple TV Offers a Turnkey Premium Format With Dolby Atmos

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