Moat Debuts Video Ad Metrics for Variety of Digital Platforms

Analytics company Moat is rolling out new advertising metrics for platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Hulu. Recently, Facebook revealed that it has overstated metrics for video viewing for years. Rather than focusing on what constitutes a video view, Moat will judge the quality of video ad views with its Moat Video Score, which assigns in real time a number between zero and 100 based on how long viewers watch and listen to the ad and the percentage of “screen real estate” it takes up. Continue reading Moat Debuts Video Ad Metrics for Variety of Digital Platforms

Samsung Bets on Automotive with $8 Billion Harman Purchase

As Apple reportedly scales back its automotive plans, South Korean smartphone competitor Samsung is pushing into the emerging market with its $8 billion acquisition of luxury audio and connected car leader Harman. Auto connectivity has been a “strategic priority” for Samsung, and the transaction will provide the company with infotainment, telematics, security and safety solutions by Harman that are currently found in 30 million vehicles. Samsung also recently expressed interest in paying more than $3 billion for Fiat Chrysler’s Magneti Marelli autoparts business. Continue reading Samsung Bets on Automotive with $8 Billion Harman Purchase

Adobe Project VoCo Audio Editor Offers Photoshop-Like Tools

Adobe Research and Princeton University are collaborating on software that acts like Photoshop for audio, including the ability to add words not found in the original audio file. Adobe developer Zeyu Jin, who spoke at the Adobe MAX conference, described the would-be product, codenamed Project VoCo, as a “sneak peak.” Project VoCo is intended to be an audio editing application, with more typical speech editing and noise cancellation features, but the Photoshop-like tool also raises potential ethical issues regarding the use of doctored audio clips.

Continue reading Adobe Project VoCo Audio Editor Offers Photoshop-Like Tools

Deep Learning Pioneer Yoshua Bengio Launches AI Incubator

Yoshua Bengio, a leader in deep learning and professor at the University of Montreal, is opening Element AI, a startup incubator focused on this form of artificial intelligence. The incubator will help develop AI-centric companies coming from both Bengio’s university and nearby McGill University, part of Bengio’s stated goal of creating an “AI ecosystem” in this Canadian city. According to Bengio, Montreal is home to “the biggest concentration in the world” of researchers in the powerful field of deep learning. Continue reading Deep Learning Pioneer Yoshua Bengio Launches AI Incubator

Walmart Debuts Free, Ad-Supported Video Streaming Service

Retail giant Walmart announced the launch of its free, ad-supported streaming video service called Vudu Movies On Us, which offers thousands of titles available for 1080p HD streaming, and supports Dolby Digital sound when available. Vudu has been selling and renting movies and TV shows for almost 10 years. The new service, however, will not feature new releases or current series. Instead, it will focus on older blockbusters and classics. Vudu considered developing a subscription VOD service, but opted for the ad-supported model since the majority of Walmart customers expressed interest in free or discounted video services. Continue reading Walmart Debuts Free, Ad-Supported Video Streaming Service

Razer Purchases THX with Plans for VR and Global Expansion

Razer, which develops hardware and services for the gaming world, announced this week that it is acquiring THX from Creative Labs, with plans to run the iconic audio company (founded by filmmaker George Lucas in 1983) as an independent subsidiary with a focus on overseas expansion and new device areas such as VR headsets. THX is expected to continue operating under current management, led by CEO Ty Ahmad-Taylor. Razer, run by CEO Min-Liang Tan and valued at $1.5 billion, also acquired gaming startup Ouya last year. Financial terms of the THX deal have not been disclosed. Continue reading Razer Purchases THX with Plans for VR and Global Expansion

Industry Visionaries Discuss VR Production at Oculus Connect

Best practices for remaining on budget, the importance of planning and testing, whether to capture in mono or stereoscopic 3D, techniques for directing talent, and how to treat (or not to treat) VR environments were among the many topics discussed during a compelling panel about creating 360-degree video at the Oculus Connect 3 conference in San Jose last week. Four accomplished virtual reality production executives and technologists shared their practical knowledge and recommendations for navigating the uncharted waters of budgeting and producing VR content. Continue reading Industry Visionaries Discuss VR Production at Oculus Connect

Oculus Chief Scientist Predicts the Future of VR Platform Tech

Disavowing popular wisdom that it doesn’t pay to be too specific, Oculus chief scientist Michael Abrash delineated what virtual reality tech will look like in 2021 at the Oculus Connect 3 conference last week. With the caveat that he would be proved “wrong about some of the specifics,” Abrash described a high-end VR future that includes 4K x 4K resolution per eye and 140-degree field of view displays, foveated rendering, personalized audio encoding, and “augmented virtual reality.” Abrash was the final speaker in a keynote session that stretched past two hours. Continue reading Oculus Chief Scientist Predicts the Future of VR Platform Tech

Top Record Labels File Lawsuit Against YouTube Ripping Site

Sony, Universal, Warner Bros. and other record labels are taking legal action against the German operator of website YouTube-mp3.org, claiming that the industry is being robbed of revenue from streaming, downloads and advertising. BBC notes that the site provides an easy-to-use method of downloading audio from YouTube videos. The labels filed the suit in a federal court in Los Angeles, seeking damages including $150,000 per each alleged act of piracy. According to the labels, “tens, or even hundreds, of millions of tracks are illegally copied and distributed by stream-ripping services each month.” YouTube-mp3.org is described as the “chief offender,” with more than 60 million monthly users. Continue reading Top Record Labels File Lawsuit Against YouTube Ripping Site

Google Offers Daydream SDK and Unity Support to Developers

Having exited beta, Google’s VR platform Daydream is now available to developers who can use the VR SDK to build virtual reality experiences for Daydream-capable phones and headsets. Daydream is already baked into Android 7.0 (Nougat) and can also integrate with Unity and Unreal game engines. Apps to be available at launch include CNN, HBO, Hulu, IMAX, MLB, NBA, Netflix, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as Ubisoft and Electronic Arts games. Daydream was first introduced at Google I/O in May. Continue reading Google Offers Daydream SDK and Unity Support to Developers

Software Analyzes Gender Equity (or Lack Thereof) on Screen

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, at Mount St. Mary’s University, with funding from Google’s philanthropic division and in technical collaboration with Google and University of Southern California’s Signal Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory, has come up with a tool to accurately analyze gender bias in moviemaking. The tool, which uses video- and audio-recognition and algorithms to recognize gender, speaking time and other details, takes 15 minutes to collect data from a 90-minute movie. Continue reading Software Analyzes Gender Equity (or Lack Thereof) on Screen

TiVo Introduces Bolt+ DVR with Six 4K Tuners and 3TB Drive

Following Rovi’s $1.1 billion acquisition of TiVo and the unveiling of TiVo’s new UX on-screen user experience, the company has now rolled out its latest DVR, the Bolt+ with six 4K tuners and 3TB of storage. While last fall’s 4K-ready Bolt debuted a white chassis and curved form factor, the Bolt+ returns to TiVo’s standard black body. The newest addition to the Bolt family can record 450 hours of HD content and allows users to simultaneously record and stream more shows. The Bolt+ will be available for $499.99 (not including the monthly service fee) starting tomorrow. Continue reading TiVo Introduces Bolt+ DVR with Six 4K Tuners and 3TB Drive

Starbucks Unveils ‘Upstanders’ Original Video, Podcast Series

Starbucks launched “Upstanders,” an original multi-platform 10-episode series that tells “stories of compassion, citizenship and civility” through video, podcasts, and text. The content will be distributed in the company’s in-store digital network, online and via its mobile app. Starbucks chairman/chief executive Howard Schultz wrote and produced the series with Starbucks executive producer Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who left his post as senior editor at The Washington Post to establish the production company in Seattle. Continue reading Starbucks Unveils ‘Upstanders’ Original Video, Podcast Series

IBM Uses AI to Create Trailer for 20th Century Fox’s ‘Morgan’

“Morgan,” a horror film released by 20th Century Fox, has the distinction of being the first movie whose trailer was created with artificial intelligence. The studio partnered with IBM Research to develop what they’re calling a “cognitive movie trailer” largely created by AI. The IBM team faced several challenges, not the least of which is that the nature of horror is subjective. The team had to teach the system to be able to identify scary moments, and then make a trailer that audiences would find compelling. Continue reading IBM Uses AI to Create Trailer for 20th Century Fox’s ‘Morgan’

Sonos-Amazon Partnership Highlights Need for Improved Mics

Since Amazon debuted Echo in 2014, digital tinkerers have been creating hacks to connect Amazon’s speakers to Sonos’ better speakers. Now, Sonos has introduced a system, developed with Amazon, to let users do just that. With a limited beta test version available this year, the system will be released widely in 2017. This partnership highlights a larger problem in audio technology: digital assistants from Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft are being held back by limitations in microphone technology. Continue reading Sonos-Amazon Partnership Highlights Need for Improved Mics

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