Amazon Has Growing Problem of Third-Party Counterfeiters

In the “risk factors” section of its annual report, e-commerce leader Amazon listed counterfeit products, stating that the company may be “unable to prevent sellers in our stores or through other stores from selling unlawful, counterfeit, pirated, or stolen goods, selling goods in an unlawful or unethical manner … or otherwise violating our policies.” This is a first for the tech giant, which had never discussed the ongoing problem. In principle, it has a “zero tolerance” policy but the site is full of merchants selling knockoffs. Continue reading Amazon Has Growing Problem of Third-Party Counterfeiters

Computer-Generated Photoreal Influencers, Avatars Are Here

Computer-generated influencers have arrived. The glamorous all-digital Miquela Sousa (also known as Lil Mequela), which was created by Los Angeles-based startup Brud, has been the star of an Ugg advertising campaign, appearing on billboards around the world. Brud believes it can create CGI social media stars that are easier to manage and monetize than human celebrities. It’s not alone in its efforts; Soul Machines, which has debuted dozens of digital humans, is launching its Digital DNA platform to make it easier to create virtual avatars. Continue reading Computer-Generated Photoreal Influencers, Avatars Are Here

Google Demos Android-Powered Vehicle Infotainment System

Google is demonstrating an Android-powered touchscreen car console and infotainment system, offering Google Maps and Spotify as well as controlling seat positioning and temperature. For the first time, Google Assistant is integrated in the system, allowing users to ask for directions and make phone calls. The Android operating system will be demonstrated running on the Audi Q8 and Volvo V90 SUVs at this week’s Google I/O developers conference. Earlier this year, Google showed the software on a Chrysler vehicle. Continue reading Google Demos Android-Powered Vehicle Infotainment System

California DMV’s Report on Self-Driving Cars Shows Progress

The California Department of Motor Vehicles released its annual report from the 11 companies with state permits to test autonomous vehicles as of end of 2015, and they have all made rapid progress. The report, which covers December 2015 to November 2016, recounts how many times humans had to take over driving tasks. Google and General Motors in particular have excelled, with cars that can drive hundreds of miles at a stretch without a hitch. Nissan has gone from needing intervention every 14 miles — to assistance needed after 247 miles. Continue reading California DMV’s Report on Self-Driving Cars Shows Progress

Microsoft Brings Cortana to Nissan, Amazon Signs Ford Deal

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn delivered a CES keynote that addressed the company’s goal to integrate Microsoft tech into its automobiles. Nissan’s connected vehicles will use Microsoft programs including the Cortana voice assistant, Dynamics, Office 365, Power BI and Skype for Business. Microsoft is launching a new Connected Vehicle Platform based on its Azure cloud platform, and the Renault-Nissan alliance will be the first automotive partner for the tech giant’s new initiative. The move comes during increased competition in automotive tech; Amazon, for example, is looking to get its virtual assistant Alexa into cars and just announced a deal with Ford. Continue reading Microsoft Brings Cortana to Nissan, Amazon Signs Ford Deal

How to Navigate 2.5 Million Square Feet of CES Exhibit Space

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, CES opens in Las Vegas this week with 3,800 companies showcasing their latest products across almost 2.5 million square feet of exhibit space. Broad but logical thematic lines distribute the exhibits across three venues: Tech East at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), Tech West at the Sands and Venetian Complex, and Tech South at the Aria. Fifty years after 117 exhibitors dazzled 17,000 visitors with transistor radios and small-screen televisions, CES presents itself as the place “where tomorrow is on display.”  Continue reading How to Navigate 2.5 Million Square Feet of CES Exhibit Space

Samsung Bets on Automotive with $8 Billion Harman Purchase

As Apple reportedly scales back its automotive plans, South Korean smartphone competitor Samsung is pushing into the emerging market with its $8 billion acquisition of luxury audio and connected car leader Harman. Auto connectivity has been a “strategic priority” for Samsung, and the transaction will provide the company with infotainment, telematics, security and safety solutions by Harman that are currently found in 30 million vehicles. Samsung also recently expressed interest in paying more than $3 billion for Fiat Chrysler’s Magneti Marelli autoparts business. Continue reading Samsung Bets on Automotive with $8 Billion Harman Purchase

CES: Ford/Google Partnership Highlights Autonomous Cars

At CES 2016, a record-breaking 464 automotive electronics companies will exhibit a broad range of new developments, with trends from VR/AR interfaces to modular infotainment systems. Going head-to-head with Tier 1 auto suppliers are Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto, which are targeted for adoption as native interfaces. From automakers, Ford is expected to announce a partnership with Google to create self-driving vehicles, a synergistic pairing that boosts both companies’ fortunes. Continue reading CES: Ford/Google Partnership Highlights Autonomous Cars

CES: Mobility, Connection and Intelligence Drive Automotive

Nowhere at CES does more applied innovation come together than in the North Hall automotive exhibits. That is not something that could have been said just a few years ago when the hall was more about sound systems and aftermarket gizmos. The car is now a rolling precursor of the connected/IoT future, redefined mobility, and even the development of smart cities. GM and VW keynotes will showcase new electric cars and two companies, Faraday Future and Rinspeed, promise dazzling concepts, including one with a drone landing pad.

Continue reading CES: Mobility, Connection and Intelligence Drive Automotive

Digital Domain and Immersive Media Join Forces for VR Content

Digital Domain Holdings Ltd. and Immersive Media are launching a joint venture called IM360. According to the two companies, IM360 plans to produce immersive content and services, including virtual reality content, by combining Digital Domain’s CGI and motion capture expertise with Immersive’s 360-degree video hardware and software. The 360-degree video tech is already being used for live-streaming VR content, and the software can send video to devices including tablets, smartphones and VR headsets. Continue reading Digital Domain and Immersive Media Join Forces for VR Content

Project Titan: Apple is Reportedly Developing an Electric Car

New details have surfaced suggesting that Apple’s latest innovation may emerge in the auto industry. According to inside sources, a team of several hundred Apple employees, led by former Ford engineer and Apple product design VP Steve Zadesky, has been developing an electric car under the project code name “Titan” for about a year now. While Apple has yet to confirm the project, the company’s recent hiring of experienced auto executives suggests there might be truth to these rumors.

Continue reading Project Titan: Apple is Reportedly Developing an Electric Car

CES Keynotes to Go Well Beyond Typical Hardware and Devices

The showpiece keynote sessions at the 2015 International CES underscore the scope of industry and breadth of innovation gathering in Las Vegas January 5-9. Of this year’s four featured keynote speakers, two represent leading automobile manufacturers, one is the CEO of a leading tech giant, and only Samsung’s Boo-Keun Yon, opening the show on Monday night at the Venetian’s Palazzo Ballroom, represents what would be considered a typical CES keynote highlighting consumer electronics devices. Continue reading CES Keynotes to Go Well Beyond Typical Hardware and Devices

Mobile Apps and Infotainment for Cars Shifting into High Gear

Earlier this week, we reported that GM is getting ready to release more than 30 new vehicles equipped with built-in 4G LTE service provided by AT&T. A number of new models from various automakers are also looking to become rolling Wi-Fi hot spots this year as car and app makers make the long-awaited push into new software and communications links. New models will feature dashboard electronics that make it easier to access smartphone apps for traffic, weather, news, entertainment and more. Continue reading Mobile Apps and Infotainment for Cars Shifting into High Gear