Amazon to Debut Two New Fire TVs, One With Built-In Alexa

Amazon will soon introduce two new Fire TV models, both of which will playback 4K HDR video at 60 fps. The first is a dongle that hangs off a permanently attached HDMI cable, similar to Google Chromecast, and the second is a new Fire TV shaped like a set-top box that will be the new flagship model. The dongle is positioned between the existing Fire TV Stick and a new high-end model. The new Fire TV cube has far-field microphones, a built-in speaker and LED light bar, with functionality similar to an Amazon Echo. Continue reading Amazon to Debut Two New Fire TVs, One With Built-In Alexa

Toshiba Is Accepting Bids for its Profitable Memory-Chip Unit

Toshiba announced that it is selling its memory-chip business, a major supplier to some of the world’s top CE manufacturers, and expects to reach an agreement by the end of the month. Leading the race is a group including private-equity firm Bain Capital and tech companies such as Apple, Dell, Seagate, SK Hynix and Innovation Network Corp. of Japan. Insiders indicate the bid values Toshiba’s chip business at $19 billion. Apple and Dell aim to keep the Toshiba unit as a viable supplier, while hoping it remains competitive with flash memory-chip leader Samsung. Continue reading Toshiba Is Accepting Bids for its Profitable Memory-Chip Unit

Apple Unveils New iPhones, Watch Series and 4K Apple TV

Apple CEO Tim Cook led a press event yesterday from the Steve Jobs Theater at the newly constructed Apple Park campus in Cupertino. Among the top announcements, Apple unveiled three new iPhones (including the much-hyped 10th anniversary iPhone X), provided details for the swim-proof Apple Watch Series 3 with new dual-core processor, and debuted an updated Apple TV streaming box with 4K Ultra HD and HDR support (starting at $179). Apple also announced it is working with Qi to develop its AirPower wireless charging standard, walked through details for watchOS 4, and revealed a September 19th release date for iOS 11. Continue reading Apple Unveils New iPhones, Watch Series and 4K Apple TV

Growth of Smart Devices Requires a Next-Gen Wi-Fi Solution

As smart devices in the home multiply, so does the need for Wi-Fi. Cisco reports that, through 2021, data routed via Wi-Fi to mobile devices will grow 48 percent a year. Several ideas to meet the demand have been proposed. Some have suggested putting a router in every room or floor of the house; most routers already connect to the cloud to optimize the network. Another idea is for the user to rent Wi-Fi through his or her cable company. Yet another is WiGig, whereby smart devices themselves would provide bandwidth. Continue reading Growth of Smart Devices Requires a Next-Gen Wi-Fi Solution

Networks Seek Safer Way to Deliver Screeners to the Press

Networks are changing how they deliver screeners to the press, due to rising concerns over piracy. HBO, for example, was hit by two cyberattacks on “Game of Thrones,” and now is moving access to screeners from its own portal to MediaSilo’s Screeners.com. Amazon, Hulu and El Rey Network have also moved screeners to the same site. Fox moved its screeners from one proprietary site, Fox Flash, to another, Screeners.Fox, and Starz is now delivering shows to the press via DAX’s cloud-based software. Continue reading Networks Seek Safer Way to Deliver Screeners to the Press

OTOY Uses Blockchain Tech for Distributed Cloud Rendering

The technology underlying Bitcoin is now under development to render 3D visual effects. Los Angeles-based OTOY, which provides a GPU-based software system to create a cloud-based pipeline for 3D content, is hoping to raise as much as $134 million to develop Rndr, distributed cloud rendering for VR and other content, via blockchain technology. HBO and Discovery have invested in OTOY, which has also partnered with Facebook and Mattel. Relying on cloud-based GPUs for rendering is a much less expensive solution than supercomputers. Continue reading OTOY Uses Blockchain Tech for Distributed Cloud Rendering

Pirates Flock to Google Drive, Other Cloud Storage Services

DMCA takedown requests reveal that pirates of television and movie content are turning to cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Kim Dotcom’s Mega since the demise of many public torrent sites. Last month, almost 5,000 takedown requests centered on activity on Google Drive, with each listing a few hundred links. Although some Google Drive links host full movies, others are empty except for an embedded YouTube video. Google reiterated that it takes copyright infringement seriously. Continue reading Pirates Flock to Google Drive, Other Cloud Storage Services

Google Ramping Up its Artificial Intelligence Efforts in China

Despite earlier concerns over censorship and a cyberattack traced to Chinese hackers — and the fact that its search engine can only be accessed in the region by using VPNs (due to the government’s filtering system) — Google is reportedly ramping up its presence in China. Its careers web page lists nearly 60 open positions in Beijing and Shanghai. According to The Wall Street Journal, at least four of the engineering positions involve artificial intelligence, “including a technical lead to develop a team to work on natural language processing, data compression and other machine learning technologies.” Continue reading Google Ramping Up its Artificial Intelligence Efforts in China

Western Digital Acquires Upthere to Expand Cloud Services

Western Digital announced its acquisition of cloud services startup Upthere, which offers storage solutions for photos, videos, documents and music. “The Upthere app is platform agnostic and available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, as well as macOS and Windows PCs,” notes the press release. “The addition of Upthere’s technology and team to Western Digital’s Client Solutions business unit will enhance the company’s consumer products portfolio with new cloud-based offerings.” Upthere CEO Chris Bourdon and his team will continue under Western Digital. Barbara Nelson, formerly of cloud security business IronKey, will lead Western Digital’s Cloud Services business. Continue reading Western Digital Acquires Upthere to Expand Cloud Services

First Autonomous Drone Delivery Service Debuts in Iceland

In Reykjavik, Iceland, e-marketplace Aha is using Israel’s Flytrex for the first-ever fully autonomous drone delivery service. Aha, a digital hub for grocery stores, retailers and restaurants, has become one of Iceland’s leading e-commerce sites. Drone delivery is ideal for Reykjavik, which is situated on a large bay, meaning road transportation is circuitous. The Icelandic Transport Authority (ICETRA) conducted a regulatory process enabling Aha to cut a 20+ minute route to four minutes. Continue reading First Autonomous Drone Delivery Service Debuts in Iceland

Archivists Promote AXF as Standard to End Metadata Issues

At AMIA’s The Reel Thing conference in Hollywood, HBO director of archives and asset management Randal Luckow and Digital Preservation Laboratories president Steve Kochak discussed cataloging unstructured metadata for preservation in distributed databases using the open standard Archive eXchange Format (AXF). Migrating physical elements often leaves out information important for the future, and metadata generated in the course of the project isn’t always documented, leading to problems linking the metadata to digital audio-video.

Continue reading Archivists Promote AXF as Standard to End Metadata Issues

Microsoft Intros Brainwave, Jumpstarting AI Hardware Speed

Microsoft has debuted Brainwave, a system that improves AI hardware performance, enabling machine learning at speeds beyond what’s available today with CPUs or GPUs. At the Hot Chips symposium in Cupertino, California, researchers showed off a Gated Recurrent Unit model running on Intel’s newly released Stratix 10 FPGA (field programmable gate array chip), at a speed of 39.5 teraflops without batching operations. Brainwave currently supports models constructed with Microsoft’s CNTK framework and Google’s TensorFlow framework. Continue reading Microsoft Intros Brainwave, Jumpstarting AI Hardware Speed

AWS, Microsoft to Pay $350K Annually for CNCF Board Seats

Amazon Web Services (AWS) officially joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) last week, two weeks after Microsoft did the same. According to Business Insider, “With Amazon’s membership, CNCF now has the support of all five of the top cloud service providers, which is good news for Kubernetes, a CNCF-managed container project.” Google created Kubernetes, a key tech in its own cloud platform, but offered it up as an open source project in 2014. With growing industry support, the tech could become the standard in container management software, to help facilitate writing apps for the cloud. Continue reading AWS, Microsoft to Pay $350K Annually for CNCF Board Seats

Chinese Developers Accuse Apple of ‘Monopolistic Behavior’

A group of 28 developers in China have hired a local law firm to file a complaint against Apple that claims the company engaged in “monopolistic behavior” after it removed apps from the App Store in China “without detailed explanation” and charged “excessive fees for in-app purchases,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The complaint also alleges Apple doesn’t give details on why apps are removed and puts local developers at a disadvantage by not responding to queries in Chinese.” Continue reading Chinese Developers Accuse Apple of ‘Monopolistic Behavior’

HTC Exec Shares Lessons From Novel For a VR-First Future

Road to VR is featuring a guest article this week by Alvin Wang Graylin, China president of Vive at HTC, who sings the praises of Ernest Cline’s best-selling novel Ready Player One. The story depicts an existence in which “VR is intertwined into every aspect of our daily lives,” writes Graylin. He believes there are positive lessons to be learned from such a “VR-First future.” The book details tech “that has the potential to create truly transformative impact on our future lives, culture, and world,” which is why he makes sure every member of his China Vive team has a copy. In his article, Graylin outlines what he sees as the 16 key takeaways from Ready Player One.

Continue reading HTC Exec Shares Lessons From Novel For a VR-First Future

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