NAB 2017: 360 Designs Debuts 4K Live Streaming VR Drone

At NAB 2017, 360 Designs, newly located in Los Angeles, debuted its Flying EYE 4K live streaming VR drone, which links with its Breeze wireless transmission unit. Founder/chief executive Alx Klive reports that the system is available for order now, but will not ship for two months. Priced at $75,000, Flying EYE and Breeze are attracting the attention of aerial photography companies, broadcasters, automotive companies, VR production companies and, interestingly enough, other drone manufacturers. Continue reading NAB 2017: 360 Designs Debuts 4K Live Streaming VR Drone

Facebook Advances its Plans for New Virtual Reality Cameras

Headed by camera expert Brian Cabral, a team of Facebook engineers unveiled plans for two new orb-shaped cameras to capture 360-degree video. With an eye towards image fidelity, one of the cameras features 24 lenses and the other, less expensive one boasts six. Both feature six axes or “degrees of freedom,” meaning they have a great range of motion for capturing a more complete image. With the new cameras, Facebook aims to outfit professional filmmakers with the ability to capture 2D and 3D 360-degree video. Continue reading Facebook Advances its Plans for New Virtual Reality Cameras

Facebook Develops Interface to Type Words via Brain Waves

At Facebook research unit Building 8, former Alphabet’s Regina Dugan is overseeing a project that will allow people to type using brain signals, the ultimate in hands-free smartphone communication. Dugan reports that, within a few years time, the system will be able to type 100 words per minute by monitoring the brain and without any implants. The technology may not require the person to think in letters. The same lab is also working on a way for people to hear through their skin.

Continue reading Facebook Develops Interface to Type Words via Brain Waves

FCC Chair Discusses Net Neutrality Rules with Tech Industry

After meeting with execs at Cisco, Facebook, Intel and Oracle to discuss future plans for net neutrality, FCC chair Ajit Pai believes tech companies are interested in finding “common ground.” Most Internet companies have expressed support for “net neutrality, saying the protections guard them from paying tolls to get their content in front of consumers,” reports The New York Times. “Pai said that he agreed with the broad principles of net neutrality but that the rules, created by the commission in 2015, went too far in restricting broadband providers.” Continue reading FCC Chair Discusses Net Neutrality Rules with Tech Industry

Facebook Pursues App Ecosystem: AR Powered by Cameras

Bolstered by last summer’s breakout popularity of “Pokémon Go,” Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has shifted focus from VR to AR, which combines the real and digital worlds. At the annual F8 conference, he stated that Facebook will make its AR tools available to developers to create everything from custom masks to filters. Partners already include Nike, Electronic Arts and Warner Bros. The shift to AR puts Facebook in competition with its rival Snap’s Snapchat and Microsoft HoloLens. Continue reading Facebook Pursues App Ecosystem: AR Powered by Cameras

MasterCard Introduces Digital Wallet to Facebook Messenger

MasterCard just added its digital wallet MasterPass to Facebook Messenger, which will let consumers easily place online orders on the service. MasterPass is already available with FreshDirect and Subway, but is in its early stages of rollout. In related news, PayPal Holdings, which last year said would unveil its payment services on Facebook Messenger, will now unveil it on Alphabet’s Android Pay. Visa and MasterCard are also focused on expanding the consumer and merchant use of their digital wallets. Continue reading MasterCard Introduces Digital Wallet to Facebook Messenger

Slack Faces Off Against Bigger Competitors, Tweaks Software

Slack came to life three years ago, out of a failed video game, and, as messaging software, combines rich data on how people use a product with information on how people feel about using it. When it debuted in 2014, word of mouth catapulted Slack to a value of $4 billion. Now, the private company has attracted competition from Microsoft, which last fall unveiled Teams, free to 85 million users of Office 365, and Facebook with its free collaboration tool Workplace. A smaller company, Atlassian, has also had success. Continue reading Slack Faces Off Against Bigger Competitors, Tweaks Software

Facebook Faces Tough Questions After a Killer Shares Video

An Ohio resident is accused of fatally shooting an elderly man in Cleveland yesterday after a 57-second video of the murder was shared via Facebook Live. Since its launch less than a year ago, Facebook Live “has provided an unedited look at police shootings, rape, torture, and enough suicides that Facebook will be integrating real-time suicide prevention tools into the platform,” reports Wired. However, this is “the first time a killer has streamed themselves committing a homicide,” raising “questions about the limits and responsibilities of a platform that has pledged to reflect humanity in its purest form.” Continue reading Facebook Faces Tough Questions After a Killer Shares Video

Facebook’s 5 Million Advertisers Get New, More Robust Tools

Facebook now counts more than 5 million active advertisers, of which 1 million — 75 percent outside the U.S. — signed on in the last seven months. E-commerce, media and entertainment, and retail are the most popular verticals. To make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to advertise, Facebook introduced a new suite of tools. Within Ad Manager, one-click will reinstate high-performing ads. A new “studio” allows businesses to build ads via a mobile device, and Facebook also expanded its small business council. Continue reading Facebook’s 5 Million Advertisers Get New, More Robust Tools

Facebook Takes Additional Steps in Battle Against Fake News

Facebook has donated $14 million to the News Integrity Initiative, established by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark to combat fake news. The project, which will be headed by Jeff Jarvis, will run out of the City University of New York’s journalism school. The move is just one of Facebook’s recent efforts to combat fake news. The company has also hired former CNN anchor Campbell Brown to lead its new Facebook Journalism Project, partnered with fact-checking sites to tag fake news, and published tips on how to identify it. Continue reading Facebook Takes Additional Steps in Battle Against Fake News

Fact Check: Google Takes on Fake News with Search Feature

Facebook is not the only tech giant looking to address the growing problem of fake news. Alphabet-owned Google, the world’s biggest search engine, is introducing a feature that offers users a new layer of fact checking in their search results. The move follows criticism that Google and other Internet companies are assisting with the spread of misinformation. After limited testing, Google rolled out the feature to its News pages and search catalog Friday. “Fact Check” tags will appear in News search results, but they will not be powered by Google. Instead, the feature will rely on fact-checking firms such as PolitiFact and Snopes, as well as reputable publishers including The New York Times and The Washington Post. Continue reading Fact Check: Google Takes on Fake News with Search Feature

Apple Clips Launches: Cool Features, But Not Always Intuitive

Apple is debuting a standalone video app called Apple Clips that allows users to shoot, edit and share video clips for mobile phones. Apple Clips, for iOS 10.3 or higher, features real-time captioning and facial recognition as well as giant emojis, cartoon filters and lively title screens — and the end results can be distributed to iMessage contacts. Automatic captioning, dubbed Live Titles, allows the user to choose a font and style; after hitting record, the app transcribes speech to text. But less ideal features mar the app, say critics. Continue reading Apple Clips Launches: Cool Features, But Not Always Intuitive

Workplace: Facebook Tests Free Version of Slack Competitor

Facebook’s Workplace is a social networking tool designed for the enterprise, enabling an efficient chat and collaboration platform for employees. It is similar to the Facebook used by friends and family members, but instead is meant to foster interaction between co-workers. Now, Facebook is introducing a free version intended for smaller businesses that are not as interested in the administrative and analytical features offered to subscribers. (It is still being tested, so the release is limited.) The new version will be named “Workplace Standard,” and the paid version will go by “Workplace Premium.” Continue reading Workplace: Facebook Tests Free Version of Slack Competitor

NFL and Amazon Sign Deal to Stream Thursday Night Games

The National Football League has signed a one-year agreement to stream 10 Thursday night games via Amazon in a deal insiders say is valued in the $50 million range (about five times the value of last season’s deal with Twitter). The games streamed for free on Twitter, but the Amazon deal will stream only to Prime members. Globally, more than 60 million consumers pay the annual $99 fee for Amazon Prime with perks including two-day shipping and access to movies, TV shows and music. The NFL deal is not exclusive; Thursday night games are split between CBS and NBC for television broadcasts, and are also made available on the NFL Network. Continue reading NFL and Amazon Sign Deal to Stream Thursday Night Games

HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC has rolled out its anticipated monthly subscription service for virtual reality content, including video games and short interactive films. For a $7 per month fee, users can download up to five VR titles a month from the online Viveport store. HTC is positioning the new service as a way for customers to try out an app before they decide to purchase it. The service is only available to owners of the HTC Vive VR headset. Among the titles initially available are “Everest VR” and “Mars Odyssey.” Continue reading HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

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