Amazon and Netflix Acquire Movies and Visibility at Sundance

After coming up empty at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, streaming services Amazon and Netflix made some significant acquisitions at this year’s indie film festival in Utah. Prior to the festival, Netflix spent $5 million for the streaming rights to “Tallulah,” starring Allison Janney and Ellen Page, and almost $7 million for “The Fundamentals of Caring,” starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez. Amazon inked a deal for Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea,” with Kyle Chandler, Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges. Continue reading Amazon and Netflix Acquire Movies and Visibility at Sundance

GM Debuts Maven, Program for Several Car-Sharing Initiatives

Electric cars, autonomous cars and ride-sharing are all disruptors in the automotive industry, but General Motors, for one, is focusing on taking advantage of opportunities in changing times. The company just launched Maven, a program that aggregates its various car-sharing efforts, with a team of 40 GM staff and others from Google, Zipcar and Sidecar, with the goal of developing additional car-sharing services. First up is a car-sharing trial in Ann Arbor, Michigan, focusing on the university community. Continue reading GM Debuts Maven, Program for Several Car-Sharing Initiatives

CES: Zeiss Comes Up with Optics for Superior Smart Glasses

Carl Zeiss — notable manufacturer of lenses for motion picture and consumer cameras — now has the technology for smart glasses that makes use of more than a decade of work on head-mounted displays and two centuries of work on lenses. Best of all, the resulting smart glasses look and feel exactly like ordinary prescription lenses — and, in fact, can combine optical prescriptions and “smart” technology. Zeiss did it by integrating a Fresnel structure into a standard lens, and placing a very small display at the end of the lens. Continue reading CES: Zeiss Comes Up with Optics for Superior Smart Glasses

Sensors Industry Group Sets the Bar, Sees the Future for IoT

At CES 2016, the MEMS & Sensors Industry Group held its fifth conference to focus on the technologies that quite literally enable the Internet of Things. The group’s executive director Karen Lightman notes that MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical Systems) are both sensors and actuators, the latter being the key differentiating factor. “Not all MEMS are sensors and not all sensors are MEMS,” she said. “What’s exciting is that MEMS and sensors still offer new science and new ways of addressing challenging issues.” Continue reading Sensors Industry Group Sets the Bar, Sees the Future for IoT

Qualcomm Snapdragon Processors Power Connected Devices

At Qualcomm’s CES press conference, CEO Steve Mollenkopf noted that the company has dedicated more than $38 billion to R&D with emphasis on areas such as automotive, smart cities, wearables, networking, smart homes, data centers, healthcare and smartphones. The company announced partnerships with German automaker Audi and pharmaceutical company Novartis. The chipmaker also launched an entire smart home reference platform to make it easy to integrate their Snapdragon chips into smart home devices. Continue reading Qualcomm Snapdragon Processors Power Connected Devices

The Internet of Things Brings Benefits, Risks and Public Policy

Consumer taste, technology development are two of the forces impacting the growth and direction of the Internet of Things. A group of experts focused on policy issues surrounding IoT’s evolution at CES. Moderator Alan Davidson, director of digital economy for the Department of Commerce, reports that, about seven years ago, the number of Internet-connected things surpassed the number of people on the planet. “By 2025, this is an area that will have an economic impact of $4 to $11 trillion on the global economy,” he said. Continue reading The Internet of Things Brings Benefits, Risks and Public Policy

Panasonic Intros 4K Blu-ray Player, Ultra HD OLED, LED TVs

During its CES press conference, Panasonic introduced its new Ultra HD products. The company confirmed that it plans to ship an Ultra HD Blu-ray player “later this year,” joining Samsung as the second major manufacturer to introduce a 4K BD player. Panasonic also touted its CZ950 4K Ultra HD OLED TV, originally announced last September at IFA in Berlin, and the first OLED set to receive THX certification. Additionally, Panasonic highlighted its new flagship DX900 LED TV series, one of the first to meet the UHD Alliance’s just announced Ultra HD Premium specification. Continue reading Panasonic Intros 4K Blu-ray Player, Ultra HD OLED, LED TVs

BBC Turns to Parrot Analytics AI to Measure Show Demand

BBC Worldwide has recently employed artificial intelligence to analyze global demand for specific TV shows. In the most notable case, the BBC turned to New Zealand company Parrot Analytics’ AI and data science to learn that Germany, China, India and Singapore had high demand for its contemporary “Sherlock” series. After extensive testing, the BBC has again used Parrot’s data for several other shows, to find territories and platforms where demand exists. Parrot’s research includes multiple screens and markets. Continue reading BBC Turns to Parrot Analytics AI to Measure Show Demand

Virtual Reality Roller Coasters Are Coming to Theme Parks

In 2016, virtual reality will go on a roller coaster ride at several theme parks. Plans for nine VR roller coasters are already slated, with haunted mazes and thrill rides in the planning stages. At the Wonderland amusement park, outside Toronto, Canada, the Thunder Run roller coaster will begin to offer virtual reality headsets, for an added fee, to a limited number of riders. During the off-season, the park tested the VR experience, where riders fly on the back of a fire-breathing dragon over a medieval village. Continue reading Virtual Reality Roller Coasters Are Coming to Theme Parks

EyeEm Unveils New Tech for Auto-Scanning, Tagging Images

German startup EyeEm, which launched its photo-sharing app in 2011, unveiled new technology based on an advanced algorithm and machine learning to identify details of online photos. The technology, EyeVision, automatically scans images and tags them with specific keywords, making it useful for people searching for specific images. The technology, which has been in development for three years, comes at a time that companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google look for ways to provide images for online search queries. Continue reading EyeEm Unveils New Tech for Auto-Scanning, Tagging Images

IFA 2015: Samsung is First to Announce 4K UHD Blu-ray Player

As 4K UHD TVs slowly come to market, and streaming services continue to introduce support for 4K and high dynamic range programming, Ultra HD Blu-ray is the next logical step. During its press conference at the IFA trade show in Berlin yesterday, Samsung became the first company to officially announce a 4K UHD Blu-ray player. Samsung’s UBD-K8500 supports HDR, offers 64 times the colors of standard Blu-ray, and plays UHD content at up to 60 frames per second. 20th Century Fox is providing content for the player, and plans to issue all its new releases in 4K Ultra HD with HDR. Continue reading IFA 2015: Samsung is First to Announce 4K UHD Blu-ray Player

Panasonic Joins LG in OLED Market with Curved 4K Offering

During the IFA trade show in Berlin yesterday, Panasonic unveiled its 65CZ950, a curved 4K OLED TV featuring the company’s Studio Master Drive processor. Panasonic claims the 65-inch OLED, slated for an October release in Europe, is the most color-accurate display it has ever produced. It is also the first to achieve THX certification. Panasonic says the CZ950 series brings home entertainment closer to a cinema experience since it is fully HDR compatible and covers more than 90 percent of the DCI color space. Continue reading Panasonic Joins LG in OLED Market with Curved 4K Offering

Europe’s TV/Film Groups Rebuff Netflix, Digital Single Market

The European film and TV industries are expressing concern over two forces they believe threaten their well-being: Netflix and the Digital Single Market, a proposal by the European Commission to create a single European market, ending movie and TV territorial copyright barriers. International TV and film business groups coalesced against the latter proposal, arguing that the Digital Single Market would only benefit a handful of big global Internet platforms. Chief among those platforms, they believe, is Netflix. Continue reading Europe’s TV/Film Groups Rebuff Netflix, Digital Single Market

Google’s Fall From Grace in EU Culminates in Antitrust Suit

Google, which enjoyed enormous popularity and usage numbers in the European Union, now suffers blowback from information revealed in the NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Not long ago, free-speech advocates in many countries applauded Google for shutting down its China site rather than face censorship, and Google has also been seen on the right side of history during the Arab Spring and in Syria. But now, the EU is accusing the tech giant of abusing its power — and it is looking for payback via an antitrust suit. Continue reading Google’s Fall From Grace in EU Culminates in Antitrust Suit

Nokia Sells Mapping Unit to German Carmakers for $3 Billion

Nokia has sold its Here digital mapping unit, a global competitor to Google Maps, to German automakers Audi, BMW Group and Daimler for $3 billion. Since the sale of its mobile phone unit to Microsoft for $7.6 billion last year, Nokia has been putting efforts into its telecom network infrastructure business, which supplies carriers like AT&T and China Mobile with communication equipment. The three German auto companies will use the mapping tech for autonomous driving plans, which they will license to other companies. Continue reading Nokia Sells Mapping Unit to German Carmakers for $3 Billion

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