Google, Levi’s Debut Smart Jacket, Sign of Wearables’ Future

At SXSW in Austin, Google and Levi’s debuted the Commuter, a $350 “smart” jean jacket targeting those who bicycle to work. The Commuter also signals a potential direction for wearables; unlike clunky wristbands and watches, the denim jacket gets its smarts from technology woven into the cloth’s fibers. The joint project enables bicycle commuters to tap or swipe the jacket’s sleeves to make phone calls, get directions and check the time through headphones. The jacket will be available for sale in the fall. Continue reading Google, Levi’s Debut Smart Jacket, Sign of Wearables’ Future

The Rise of Specialized Computing and New Era of Chip Design

Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors in a chip doubles approximately every two years, is sputtering to an end. As a result, an increasing number of companies are relying on specialized computing, which transforms software tasks into silicon chips rather than relying on CPUs. This key technology is behind two recent developments: Intel’s acquisition of Israeli startup Mobileye, which produces chips and software for autonomous vehicles, and Nvidia’s latest iteration of a system to speed up machine learning. Continue reading The Rise of Specialized Computing and New Era of Chip Design

Google Plans to Simplify Advertiser Controls for YouTube Video

In response to pressure from advertisers unhappy with placement of their commercials before extremist group videos on YouTube, Google apologized and explained it would simplify the tools that help advertisers control where online ads appear. The British unit of French advertising firm Havas, the U.K. government, and Marks & Spencer Group are among those that suspended their ads on YouTube and the Google Display Network. Matt Brittin, Google’s president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, “said he would step up enforcement and review policies to make sure ads don’t inadvertently appear near inappropriate videos,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “He said Google wanted to be careful with how it did so because some advertisers, such as news organizations, might want to place ads alongside controversial content.” Continue reading Google Plans to Simplify Advertiser Controls for YouTube Video

Commercial Internet Now Supports More Than 10 Million Jobs

A new report suggests that the commercial Internet now represents 6 percent of our gross domestic product. “The ad-supported Internet contributed about $1.121 trillion to the U.S. economy last year and is responsible for more than 10 million jobs across all 50 states, according to a new study commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau,” reports The Wall Street Journal. The study found that the number of jobs created by the Internet more than doubled from 2012 to 2016, largely spurred by the rapid adoption of mobile devices, the transition to e-commerce, and the growth of a new gig economy. In regards to size and scope, “About 86 percent of the ad-supported Internet economy falls outside of New York City, San Francisco, Boston, the Washington, DC area, and Seattle.” Continue reading Commercial Internet Now Supports More Than 10 Million Jobs

Google Share of Search Ad Market to Hit 80 Percent by 2018

According to a new eMarketer report, Google’s share of the online search advertising market could exceed 80 percent by 2019, as it outpaces other search companies including Microsoft, Yahoo, Yelp and AOL. Last year, Google’s share of the ad market reached 75.8 percent ($24.6 billion in revenue). The company’s share is expected to reach 80 percent by 2018 and 80.2 percent the following year. The eMarketer projections include advertising on desktop and laptop PCs, mobile phones, tablets and other Internet-connected devices. Continue reading Google Share of Search Ad Market to Hit 80 Percent by 2018

Native Video and Live Streaming Crucial to Facebook Strategy

Since 25 percent of U.S. Internet users adopted ad blockers in 2016, native video is becoming increasingly important to marketers and brands. Native video is also one of the primary reasons that a new wave of user-generated content and influencer marketing has become so relevant. According to a new study from social analytics firm Quintly, native videos are dominating Facebook, and doing so by design. The social network is becoming a major player in the video realm by downplaying other platforms and introducing auto plays in feeds as a default. The company is also starting its pursuit of live streaming professional broadcasts, including sports. Continue reading Native Video and Live Streaming Crucial to Facebook Strategy

Intel Acquires Mobileye in Effort to Develop ‘Server on Wheels’

Intel is paying $15.3 billion for Mobileye, an Israeli tech supplier that makes sensors and cameras for driverless vehicles. “You can think of the car as a server on wheels,” said Intel chief Brian Krzanich. “The average autonomous car will throw out four terabytes of data a day, so this is one of the most important markets and one of the fastest-growing markets.” The market sector is currently dominated by companies such as Google and Uber that have developed test vehicles, initiated trials in various cities, and signed partnerships with major automakers such as Chrysler and Volvo. Consulting firm Bain & Company forecasts the autonomous vehicle sector will be worth $25 billion annually by 2025. Continue reading Intel Acquires Mobileye in Effort to Develop ‘Server on Wheels’

Brands Experiment with 360-Degree Video Tech on Snapchat

After making a splash on Facebook and YouTube, 360-degree videos have made their way to Snapchat. Major brands such as Chick-fil-A, Netflix and Universal Pictures have been experimenting with virtual experiences on the social platform. Universal took users on a tour of a masquerade ball from “Fifty Shades Darker,” while Netflix rolled out a 360-degree trailer for “Ultimate Beastmaster.” Michael Rucker, co-founder and COO of VR firm OmniVirt, notes that clients are seeing two to three times higher swipe-up rates when using the format. Engagement is also on an upswing, with the average user spending more than a minute with these experiences. Continue reading Brands Experiment with 360-Degree Video Tech on Snapchat

Facebook Rolls Out VR App, Vimeo Adds 360 Video Support

Facebook launched its first dedicated virtual reality app, Facebook 360, initially available only for the Samsung Gear VR mobile headset. The new app, for download via the Oculus Store, will serve as a central hub for the more than one million 360 videos and 25 million 360 photos already posted to the site. Meanwhile, Vimeo has joined competitors Facebook and YouTube in introducing support for 360-degree video content. The site now features a channel of curated 360 videos in addition to a series of tutorials designed to assist video creators with producing immersive content. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out VR App, Vimeo Adds 360 Video Support

Eyewear Makers Take Focused Approach with Smart Glasses

After Google Glass failed to gain traction, eyewear companies are designing a new generation of smart glasses. Unlike Google Glass, these new wearables are not designed to emulate the functionality of a smartphone. Instead, the new glasses are aimed at narrower audiences. Snap’s Spectacles let users record photos and videos. Oakley’s Radar Pace eyewear acts as a fitness tracker. Italian company Safilo makes glasses that track brain waves and helps users concentrate. The new approach may finally help smart eyewear find a mass market. Continue reading Eyewear Makers Take Focused Approach with Smart Glasses

Google App Engine Supports More Programming Languages

At Google Cloud Next in San Francisco, Google announced its overhauled version of App Engine, the company’s platform-as-a-service for building application backends. “The big news is that App Engine now supports any programming language,” reports TechCrunch, “so a developer can create the app in whatever language they are comfortable using. Google sees this as a game changer, making the platform more open, which is a big theme with the company as it transitions to try and lure enterprise customers.” App Engine was originally a closed environment, but the new version is open and initially supports seven languages (Java 8, Ruby, Go, Python 2/3, C#, PHP 5/7 and Node.js). Continue reading Google App Engine Supports More Programming Languages

Amazon and Pinterest Challenge Google in Search Advertising

For years, Google dominated the search advertising market because two-thirds of all Internet searches are performed on the site. Now, Amazon is entering into the mix with new ad products that are competitively priced and bring consumers directly to the Amazon product pages. Pinterest also launched search ads last month that rely more heavily on images than Google’s text-based search ads. Advertisers believe players like Amazon and Pinterest could add much needed innovation. Both companies are trying to chip away at Google’s hold on the $37 billion market. Continue reading Amazon and Pinterest Challenge Google in Search Advertising

Sony Smartphones Tout Premium Cameras and 4K Displays

Sony’s Xperia series smartphones — the flagship XZ Premium, the smaller XZ, and the large XA1 Ultra — now feature impressive imaging capabilities, including an option to shoot video at 960 frames per second to enhance the phones’ slow motion capture feature. The lens improvements adjust the lighting to better illuminate nighttime scenes and all images are displayed in ultra-high definition 4K. Beyond the camera, Sony struck a deal to stream Amazon content on Xperia phones without the need for clunky third-party apps. Continue reading Sony Smartphones Tout Premium Cameras and 4K Displays

WikiLeaks Claims of CIA Hacking Could Impact Tech Industry

WikiLeaks released thousands of documents yesterday that it claims detail methods used by the CIA “to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions,” reports The New York Times. According to WikiLeaks, the CIA and allied intelligence services bypassed encryption on messaging services including Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp. WikiLeaks also suggests that agencies can collect audio and messaging data from Android phones “before encryption is applied.” The Wall Street Journal notes that such activities, if actually taking place with consumer electronics, could fuel tensions between intelligence agencies and the tech industry, which has been concerned about customer privacy. Mobile devices are a major concern; NYT published an article detailing potential smartphone vulnerabilities. Continue reading WikiLeaks Claims of CIA Hacking Could Impact Tech Industry

Game Developers Conference: What’s Next in VR Storytelling

VR leaders gathered for day two of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last week. Many of the talks addressed techniques for dealing with a medium in which you present a story and a world to the ‘visitor,’ but you have limited control over how the visitor experiences it. The “Job Simulator” team created microstories bounded by story pinchpoints within a macrostory. The HBO “Westworld” VR and Baobab Studios teams rewarded visitors for taking actions that advance the story, but embedded triggers that advance the story when the visitor misses the cues. The “Trials on Tatooine” team learned that understanding and accommodating visitors with varying physical abilities can not only improve user experience design, but inform story development. Continue reading Game Developers Conference: What’s Next in VR Storytelling

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