Intel Turns to Facebook, Other Tech Companies for AI Chip

Intel, Facebook and other tech companies are working together on a chip aimed to power artificial intelligence that will also be direct competition for Nvidia’s chips. The new Intel chip will be built to accelerate deep learning, which, among other tasks, will allow computers to recognize objects in photos and specific words in speech. The chip, dubbed the Nervana Neural Network Processor and based on Intel’s acquisition of startup Nervana Systems, is slated to be released in limited quantities in 2018. Continue reading Intel Turns to Facebook, Other Tech Companies for AI Chip

Chinese Startup Intros 8K VR Headset With 200-Degree FOV

For those yearning for a VR headset with higher resolution and a wider field of view, Chinese startup Pimax may have the solution. The company’s latest headset is marketed as 8K with laser tracking that works with HTC Vive’s base station and offers a 200-degree field of view, which is nearly double what other headsets offer. The resolution, in fact, is only 7,680 x 2,160 (not true 8K, which would be 7,680 x 4,320), but the company explains that a much higher horizontal resolution is most important — and it is an industry first. Continue reading Chinese Startup Intros 8K VR Headset With 200-Degree FOV

Oculus Recognizes Virtual Reality Hype, Defends its Potential

Virtual reality has been on a major roll … at least until this year. When Oculus executives sold their startup to Facebook in 2014 for about $3 billion, VR was riding high. The purchase prompted tech giants such as Google and Microsoft to speed up their VR headset development, and sparked a wave of investments and new startups. But this year, interest in VR has arguably slumped, as some consumers seem to have grown disappointed. Oculus has not helped the sentiment, since it has not revealed any official figures about Rift sales, but still very much believes in the technology’s potential. Continue reading Oculus Recognizes Virtual Reality Hype, Defends its Potential

Facebook Reveals the Philosophy of New Social VR Platform

As part of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to get one billion people into virtual reality, the company has also targeted social interaction as a potential powerhouse, with avatars communicating in a shared virtual world. This vision is already a reality on the company’s software platform Facebook Spaces, headed by Rachel Franklin, who previously worked on “The Sims.” She recently described her team’s philosophy and how that motivates design choices. She also described Facebook’s most successful VR elements. Continue reading Facebook Reveals the Philosophy of New Social VR Platform

Amazon Builds New Ad Goals on Thursday Night NFL Games

With its NFL stream, Amazon hopes for more digital advertising. Advertisers considering the platform see at least two things they like: Amazon’s promised “attribution,” which shows how ads led to brand awareness or online store sales (including on Amazon), data that advertisers haven’t gotten reliably on TV; and Amazon’s viewers, all $99 per year Prime subscribers, which makes them more likely to make online purchases. Sling TV, Showtime, Gillette, Pepsi and Hyundai are the first to buy an Amazon NFL ad package. Continue reading Amazon Builds New Ad Goals on Thursday Night NFL Games

Google Earmarks $1 Billion for Tech Education via Nonprofits

Google just set aside $1 billion for a new program dubbed “Grow with Google,” which will fund education and professional training nonprofits to help prepare Americans for technology jobs. The program will offer a website that will help people looking for jobs to get training and professional certificates, and for businesses to improve their online presences. Google says the goal is to allow anyone with an Internet connection to become tech-proficient and eligible for jobs from app development to IT support. Continue reading Google Earmarks $1 Billion for Tech Education via Nonprofits

Facebook Aims for One Billion VR Users, Debuts Oculus Go

At Facebook’s annual Oculus Connect developers’ conference, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced a new standalone VR headset and stated that his goal is to get one billion people into virtual reality and ensure that VR is a “force for good.” With the latter comment, Zuckerberg tacitly recognized the tsunami of criticism that Facebook has received for live-streaming suicides and murders, and a recent virtual reality tour of the aftermath of the Puerto Rico hurricane, during which he and an employee reveled in the technology, to the chagrin of viewers. Continue reading Facebook Aims for One Billion VR Users, Debuts Oculus Go

Snapchat Introduces its New Location-Based Discovery Tool

Snapchat debuted “context cards” this week, a new feature that helps its users easily make a restaurant reservation or book an Uber ride without having to exit the app. The new feature is designed to keep users engaged with the app and its contextual location-based search. By swiping up from geotagged images while viewing certain stories, users will get related data such as contact info, directions and reviews. Early partners include Bookatable, Foursquare, Michelin, OpenTable and TripAdvisor. Ultimately, more time on Snapchat could mean more advertising revenue for the popular messaging app. Continue reading Snapchat Introduces its New Location-Based Discovery Tool

Studies Show Smartphones, Social Media Cause Brain Drain

According to data collected by Apple, the typical iPhone owner uses his or her phone 80 times a day, which equals 30,000 times over the year. Now scientists are researching what happens to our minds when our phone is a constant companion that dominates our perception and cognition. What they’ve discovered is that, as our brains become dependent on the phones, our intellect becomes weaker, an effect that continues even when we aren’t using them. There are some in Silicon Valley that are increasingly concerned by the unintended consequences of smartphone and app use. Continue reading Studies Show Smartphones, Social Media Cause Brain Drain

Steemit: Social Media Platform Pays Contributors for Content

Users of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter enjoy moments of entertainment in exchange for giving up personal data to social media platforms that monetize the information. Steemit, a social news and networking site on top of a blockchain database, has a plan to change that paradigm, paying users in cryptocurrency for every post. The virtual currency, dubbed Steem, can be cashed out into hard currency — or amassed for those who believe in Steemit’s future. The new company started as a 44-page white paper released in March 2016, arguing that content creators should be paid. Continue reading Steemit: Social Media Platform Pays Contributors for Content

Samsung Takes on Rift With Windows Mixed Reality Headset

Microsoft and Samsung have partnered on a new virtual reality headset, HMD Odyssey, that relies on the former’s Windows Mixed Reality, Windows 10 software for immersive computing on devices and headsets. Samsung is not the first company to base its VR headsets on Windows 10: Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo Group are all building such VR devices. But Samsung is Microsoft’s most important partner thus far as the computing company faces Apple, Google, Facebook and other major rivals in the virtual reality/augmented reality arena. Continue reading Samsung Takes on Rift With Windows Mixed Reality Headset

Investigations Into Social Media Accounts With Ties to Russia

Four Russian-linked Facebook accounts that bought ads during the U.S. election period were active, posting divisive messages, as late as this past August. “Secured Borders,” “Blacktivist,” “Heart of Texas” and “Being Patriotic” collectively had almost one million followers, before Facebook removed them for misrepresenting their identities. On “Secured Borders,” which had 133,000 followers, messages included those calling for the killing of Muslims and dubbing illegal immigrants “rapists, murderers and child molesters.” Google, Facebook and Twitter are expected to testify before Congress about Russian ties to ad buying, search manipulation and fake news. Continue reading Investigations Into Social Media Accounts With Ties to Russia

Google Will Let Publishers Decide the Number of Free Clicks

Google is developing new tools for publishers and will end the “first click free” policy to help them boost subscriptions. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Financial Times keep their online articles behind a paywall, but savvy readers get around that by googling a headline or search terms, and then clicking for free access. Google’s new program, “flexible sampling,” allows publishers to determine how many free clicks they want to provide. The “first click free” policy required them to provide three free articles per day. Continue reading Google Will Let Publishers Decide the Number of Free Clicks

Service Providers Ask Supreme Court to Review Net Neutrality

AT&T, trade group USTelecom and broadband service provider CenturyLink filed separate appeals yesterday requesting that the FCC’s net neutrality rule barring ISPs from slowing or blocking content be overturned. The rule, supported by tech companies such as Google and Facebook, was enacted during the Obama era when the FCC was under Democratic control. “Now under Republican leadership, the FCC is already considering a plan to replace and weaken the rules,” reports Bloomberg. “FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to remove strong legal authority that critics say over-regulates telephone and cable providers and that defenders say is needed to enforce fair treatment of web traffic.” Continue reading Service Providers Ask Supreme Court to Review Net Neutrality

Roku Goes Public Today, Sets its IPO Price at $14 per Share

Video streaming device maker Roku begins trading today on Nasdaq, setting its IPO price at $14 per share, which would give it a $1.3 billion stock market value. The 15-year-old company is competing with the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google that all offer streaming video boxes featuring popular apps such as Netflix and Hulu. Roku’s devices provide access to Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and dozens of online channels, but competition is a major consideration with today’s tech investors. Snap Inc., for example, the year’s biggest tech IPO, has watched its shares plummet in value as Facebook’s Instagram rolled out Snapchat-like functionality. Continue reading Roku Goes Public Today, Sets its IPO Price at $14 per Share

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