Fitbit to Launch First Real Smartwatch With Focus on Fitness

Fitbit will debut its first true smartwatch, the $300 Ionic, in October. This new gadget, however, is focused on the company’s core competency — fitness — although it still offers typical smartwatch functionalities, including music, mobile payments and push notifications. Since Fitbit views health and fitness as the killer app, the Ionic offers an expanded range of health-oriented functions. Fitbit co-founder/chief executive James Park said the decision to take this tack was because he saw that consumers have been confused about the purpose of smartwatches. Continue reading Fitbit to Launch First Real Smartwatch With Focus on Fitness

Addressing the Myths That Impact Creation of VR Standards

In VentureBeat, The Khronos Group president Neil Trevett and Sensics CEO Yuval Boger list four myths that are standing in the way of VR standards and more rapid market growth — “Myth 1: It’s too early for standards,” “Myth 2: Standards stifle innovation,” “Myth 3: Consumers won’t be impacted” and “Myth 4: There are too many cooks developing standards.” Trevett and Boger counter all four and note that The Khronos Group and IEEE are leading efforts to develop VR standards. The ETC’s VR/AR Initiative program lead, Phil Lelyveld, says that despite outreach efforts to the creative community by those organizations, active contributors are predominantly hardware and tool developers and technologists. Continue reading Addressing the Myths That Impact Creation of VR Standards

Amazon Promotes Alexa With SDK, Revenue for Developers

Amazon is going full bore promoting its virtual assistant Alexa. In an effort to make it available on more devices, the company has debuted the Alexa Voice Service Device SDK toolset, which lets developers integrate a fully functional version to their devices, offering speech recognition and all the other Alexa capabilities such as notifications, weather reports, streaming media and thousands of voice apps. Amazon is providing additional incentive to developers by paying those whose voice apps demonstrate customer engagement. Continue reading Amazon Promotes Alexa With SDK, Revenue for Developers

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’

Leaks Point to SmartCam Debut in Upcoming Apple iPhones

Developers digging through the firmware of Apple’s upcoming smart speaker, HomePod, found evidence that the company’s iPhone camera may soon use machine learning to recognize objects and scenes and adjust settings to create the best photo, all in real-time. That’s the information made public in a HomePod firmware leak. Unclear is whether that feature will be introduced with the iPhone 8 this fall, although developer Guilherme Rambo has discovered details that suggest it will debut as “SmartCam” capability. Continue reading Leaks Point to SmartCam Debut in Upcoming Apple iPhones

Facebook Messenger 2.1 Offers Built-In NLP, Payments SDK

Facebook’s newly debuted Messenger Platform 2.1 features built-in Natural Language Processing (NLP), provided by Wit.ai, a company acquired by Facebook in 2015. NLP has been available to app developers since the acquisition, but Messenger 2.1 is the first time it is a built-in feature. The built-in NLP currently detects common phrases (“hello,” “bye,” and “thanks”) as well as date/time, location, phone number, email and amount of money, all of which trigger an automated response from the bot. Continue reading Facebook Messenger 2.1 Offers Built-In NLP, Payments SDK

Qualcomm Releases SDK Designed to Upgrade Apps for AI

Qualcomm, whose chips are in 40 percent of all smartphones, has revealed its strategy for streamlining AI tasks, by developing a software development kit (SDK) dubbed Neural Processing Engine. The SDK will help developers revamp their apps for AI tasks on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 and Snapdragon 800 processors. The company first announced the SDK a year ago. Qualcomm’s tactics differ from ARM and Microsoft, which are designing new chips, and Facebook and Google, which hope to reduce the computing power needed to run AI apps. Continue reading Qualcomm Releases SDK Designed to Upgrade Apps for AI

Mira’s $99 Prism Turns Apple’s iPhone Into an AR Headset

For Apple iPhone users looking forward to augmented reality, there will soon be another option to looking at images on the phone’s screen. Due to launch later this year, the Mira Prism, which looks like a sun visor or welder’s mask that fits over the user’s head, will reflect AR’s 3D images in front of the user’s face — and only costs $99. The visor comes from Los Angeles-based company Mira, founded by students from the inaugural class of USC’s Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. Continue reading Mira’s $99 Prism Turns Apple’s iPhone Into an AR Headset

Google Debuted AR First, But Apple About to Take the Lead

Alphabet’s Google began releasing augmented reality tools in 2014, but Apple now plans to put AR software in up to one billion mobile devices by the end of 2017. That is nearly certain to give Apple an advantage, since the company’s ecosystem will easily integrate devices and software. Google, with its Tango AR software system, has put AR in the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and Asus ZenFone AR smartphones. Apple also just introduced its ARKit, which lets developers build AR apps for iPhones and iPads. Continue reading Google Debuted AR First, But Apple About to Take the Lead

Facebook Offers New Price Reduction for Oculus Rift Bundle

For the second time this year, Facebook is hoping to jumpstart sales of its Oculus Rift VR headset with a price reduction. Facebook’s Oculus VR unit will offer the Rift, Oculus Touch motion controllers, seven VR games and more as a $399 bundle over the next six weeks. The bundle was earlier offered for $598, which was $200 less than the combined launch prices. According to Jason Rubin, head of content at Oculus, the new bundle price is meant to leverage the increased number of apps and games available for the Rift (700+ today, compared to 400 in March). Continue reading Facebook Offers New Price Reduction for Oculus Rift Bundle

Unity’s Cinemachine Designed for Animation, Games, Movies

At the Unite Europe conference in Amsterdam, more than 1,400 game developers examined tools and innovations from game engine company Unity. Among those was the virtual camera system Cinemachine, which makes it easier for even neophyte content creators to get creative with animation, games, eSports, cinematics and movie pre-visualization. Unity’s Asset Store offers free 3D models and environments, including the Adam character from last year’s impressive tech demo. The engine also offers generic animations that can be applied to characters. Continue reading Unity’s Cinemachine Designed for Animation, Games, Movies

Google Releases Public Beta of Cloud Video Intelligence API

Google’s Cloud Video Intelligence API just entered public beta. Using a system called label detection, the API lets users upload a video and get back information about the objects appearing in it. Google also added support to identify pornographic content and announced improvements to the Cloud Vision API to make several features more accurate. By putting its Cloud Video Intelligence API into public beta, Google is taking another step in its plan to make artificial intelligence more accessible to more developers. Continue reading Google Releases Public Beta of Cloud Video Intelligence API

New Amazon Video API Turns Alexa Into a Remote Control

Amazon unveiled its Video Skill API, a new tool set to help content creators turn virtual assistant Alexa into a sophisticated TV remote. With the API, Alexa can search for titles, actors or genres; play or pause media and adjust the volume. Developers can also create their own Alexa commands. It keeps track of enabled services, which means the user won’t need to specify a provider or device or add any extra commands. Alexa already controls Fire TV, but the Video Skill API now opens up those controls to any cable or satellite TV company. Continue reading New Amazon Video API Turns Alexa Into a Remote Control

Apple Debuts ARKit AR Tool for App Developers at WWDC

This week at WWDC, Apple unveiled its ARKit augmented reality platform that enables app developers to use detailed camera and sensor data to map digital objects in 3D space, more immersive than previous 2D camera overlays. With ARKit, Apple can begin to compete with Google, which currently dominates phone-based AR. The move may also signal that Apple will build AR glasses. Many industry sources believe that Apple plans to integrate augmented reality features into its 10th anniversary iPhone and wants to develop a global AR platform. Continue reading Apple Debuts ARKit AR Tool for App Developers at WWDC

WWDC: Apple Unveils Product Updates and New HomePod

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference kicked off yesterday in San Jose, California. During his keynote, CEO Tim Cook noted that 5,300 developers from 75 countries were attending this year’s conference. Among the more noteworthy announcements, Apple shared information regarding its High Sierra macOS update; iOS 11 with improved Siri (including language translation), iMessage features, and Core ML to make machine learning easier; a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro (starting at $649, available next week); a beefed-up iMac Pro; a completely redesigned App Store; and an Echo-like smart speaker called HomePod (shipping in December for $349). Continue reading WWDC: Apple Unveils Product Updates and New HomePod

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