Google Aims to Deploy Both Wireless and Fiber with Webpass

Google Fiber, an Alphabet company, just asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to expand its current service using the 70/80 Ghz band to connect apartments to high-speed Internet. The technology, which Google Fiber acquired by purchasing San Francisco broadband company Webpass, beams Internet signals to the roofs of apartment buildings, from there connecting individual apartments via cable. Now, Google Fiber wants to roll out this service on a much larger scale. Continue reading Google Aims to Deploy Both Wireless and Fiber with Webpass

Mi Box: Xiaomi Now Selling its New $69 Android TV Streamer

Chinese CE company Xiaomi introduced its first product geared for U.S. customers yesterday — the $69 streaming Mi Box, an Android TV STB that supports 4K video playback, HDR, and includes a Bluetooth voice remote. The company first unveiled the Mi Box at this year’s Google I/O developer conference. Since it’s based on Google’s Android TV, the device provides access to apps for Hulu, HBO Now, Netflix, Sling TV, YouTube and others. It also supports Google Cast for launching playback from mobile apps and makes recommendations based on a user’s YouTube and Google Play preferences. Continue reading Mi Box: Xiaomi Now Selling its New $69 Android TV Streamer

Amazon’s New Fire TV Stick Includes Alexa Digital Assistant

Amazon’s newly debuted $40 Fire TV Stick is the cheapest way to access Alexa, the company’s digital assistant which enables users to find TV programs, purchase products on Amazon’s online store, hear news updates, play a song on Spotify or check the weather. According to Amazon, Alexa is currently capable of understanding 3,000 different commands and can also offer shows from 90 apps and channels. Fire TV Stick’s more than 4,000 apps include Netflix, Hulu, HBO, ESPN and Major League Baseball. Continue reading Amazon’s New Fire TV Stick Includes Alexa Digital Assistant

Drone Industry Is Under Rapid Change in Southern California

Drone operators are beginning to realize the commercial potential of UAVs. In Southern California, for example, drones are being used for film production, sports coverage, wedding photography, map-making and more. According to Los Angeles Daily News, drone operators are also making money with applications such as: “examining the health of agricultural crops,” “monitoring the progress of construction projects,” “documenting the installation of rooftop solar panels in order to claim federal tax credits,” “selling commercial, industrial and residential real estate” and “surveying electric wires, pipelines, railroad tracks, dams and canals for damage.” Meanwhile, companies including Amazon and Google are experimenting with drone delivery services. Continue reading Drone Industry Is Under Rapid Change in Southern California

Tech Behemoths Establish Partnership on Artificial Intelligence

Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft established the Partnership on AI to create ground rules for protecting people and their jobs in the face of rapidly expanding artificial intelligence. The organization is also intended to address the public’s concern about increasingly capable machines, and corporations’ worries about potential government regulation. One of the organization’s first efforts was to agree upon and then issue basic ethical standards for development and research in artificial intelligence. Continue reading Tech Behemoths Establish Partnership on Artificial Intelligence

With Breach, Yahoo Pays the Price For Skimping on Security

Six years ago, the Chinese military hacked Google, Yahoo and other technology companies. Google, whose co-founder Sergey Brin vowed “never again,” hired hundreds of security engineers to make good on that promise. Yahoo, under the leadership of Marissa Mayer, however, focused on other problems the ailing company faced and reportedly failed to take more stringent security measures. Now, Yahoo reports another serious breach, undetected for two years, with 500 million users’ credentials stolen. Yahoo and the FBI are investigating. Continue reading With Breach, Yahoo Pays the Price For Skimping on Security

BlackBerry Outsources Handset Biz, Shifts Focus to Software

BlackBerry, whose phones were once so popular they were dubbed “Crackberry,” has licensed its brand to a group owned by Indonesian phone companies. The Canadian company — whose market share is now in the single digits in North America and Europe — made this decision despite the fact that it recently adopted the Google Android operating system. The strategy, led by executive chair/chief executive John Chen, is intended to evolve BlackBerry into a software and wireless device security business. Continue reading BlackBerry Outsources Handset Biz, Shifts Focus to Software

Samsung Cautious Regarding Plans for All-in-One VR Headset

Samsung president/chief strategy officer Young Sohn clarified that, although the company is actively engaged in smartphone-based VR headsets and standalone products, it’s taking a wait-and-see stance with regard to developing and shipping a dedicated all-in-one device. More specifically, says Sohn, the company is waiting to see where the virtual reality market is going, and if often clunky headsets click with users. Earlier, Sohn had confirmed the company was looking at developing a standalone headset. Continue reading Samsung Cautious Regarding Plans for All-in-One VR Headset

FCC, Market Trends Push Move to Unlock Set-Top Box Market

Federal Communications Commission chair Tom Wheeler continues to promote his plan to “unlock” the set-top box marketplace, ending the dominance of cable and satellite TV companies. Opposing the plan are, no surprise, those same cable and satellite companies, including Comcast and AT&T’s DirecTV, which reap profits of $20 billion a year in set-top-box rentals. CBS also opposes the plan, as do other studios that believe regulation will get in the way of quickly making their content available on multiple platforms. Continue reading FCC, Market Trends Push Move to Unlock Set-Top Box Market

Plex, Amazon Launch Beta Test of Cloud-Based Media Center

Digital media center manufacturer Plex is debuting Plex Cloud, which runs its server on Amazon Drive without a local computer or network-attached storage drive. A select group of beta testers will get their hands on Plex Cloud, enabling them to set up a Plex server in one minute and use Amazon’s consumer cloud storage service, including the ability to stream media to any device. This change removes one of the biggest obstacles to adoption of Plex’s solution for personal media: the need for a dedicated server. Continue reading Plex, Amazon Launch Beta Test of Cloud-Based Media Center

Microsoft Speeds Up AI with New Programmable FPGA Chips

In 2012, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer and computer chip researcher Doug Burger believed they had found the future of computing: chips that could be programmed for specific tasks, dubbed field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Project Catapult, as it was called, was intended to shift the underlying technology of all Microsoft servers in that direction. FPGAs now form the basis of Bing. Soon, the specialized chips will be capable of artificial intelligence at a tremendous speed — 23 milliseconds versus four seconds. Continue reading Microsoft Speeds Up AI with New Programmable FPGA Chips

Disney Said to Be Considering Possible Bid for Twitter Merger

Following the CNBC report that Google and Salesforce.com were among those being considered for a Twitter takeover, TechCrunch added that Microsoft and Verizon have also expressed interest. Today, headlines indicate that Disney is considering a possible bid. Bloomberg reports that Disney is working with an adviser on a potential deal, in what would be the company’s latest investment in a string of tech-related media businesses including Hulu, Vice and MLB’s BAMTech. The Wall Street Journal suggests that “a Twitter acquisition would be Disney’s biggest technology deal yet” and “could benefit ESPN as cord-cutting becomes more widespread.” Continue reading Disney Said to Be Considering Possible Bid for Twitter Merger

Google Offers Daydream SDK and Unity Support to Developers

Having exited beta, Google’s VR platform Daydream is now available to developers who can use the VR SDK to build virtual reality experiences for Daydream-capable phones and headsets. Daydream is already baked into Android 7.0 (Nougat) and can also integrate with Unity and Unreal game engines. Apps to be available at launch include CNN, HBO, Hulu, IMAX, MLB, NBA, Netflix, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as Ubisoft and Electronic Arts games. Daydream was first introduced at Google I/O in May. Continue reading Google Offers Daydream SDK and Unity Support to Developers

Facing Slow Growth, Twitter Said to Be Considering Takeover

Twitter is reportedly in early discussions with Google, Salesforce.com and others about a possible takeover of the San Francisco-based company. “Twitter is considering divesting itself of … Vine, the mobile six-second video service, and MoPub, a mobile advertising business,” according to The New York Times. Stalled growth has been a challenge for Twitter, which has largely failed to keep up with competitors in recent years. Facebook’s “offerings like Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger continued to outpace Twitter in user growth and profitability, while five-year-old Snapchat has become the newest darling of the social media world.” Continue reading Facing Slow Growth, Twitter Said to Be Considering Takeover

Recent Nokia Networks Trials Achieve Terabit-Speed Internet

Nokia Bell Labs, Deutsche Telekom T-Labs, and the Technical University of Munich are demonstrating Probabilistic Constellation Shaping (PCS), a technique that delivers 1Tbps speeds over fiber — much faster than Google Fiber’s 1Gbps. Nokia Networks reports that it’s tested 1Tbps “on a round trip between the German cities of Stuttgart and Darmstadt, as well as between Stuttgart and Nuremberg,” and also achieved 0.8Tbps between Stuttgart and Berlin. This is only the latest effort to bring terabit networks to fruition. Continue reading Recent Nokia Networks Trials Achieve Terabit-Speed Internet

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