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

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

Metaverse: Mozilla’s WebVR Helps Create Immersive Internet

With more focus on the so-called “Immersive Web” touted by Google, Oculus, Samsung and Microsoft, Mozilla’s free JavaScript API WebVR is experiencing a bump in popularity. WebVR is prized for its ability to enable immersive experiences without downloads or installs. Now, Mozilla is using WebVR to create an immersive version of the Internet dubbed Metaverse, a term first used in the 1992 sci-fi novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson that described a virtual domain without physical or social status limitations. Continue reading Metaverse: Mozilla’s WebVR Helps Create Immersive Internet

Casinos Face Decline in Gambling Revenue, Turn to E-Sports

MGM Resorts International is getting into the e-sports business, converting a shuttered nightclub into a permanent venue for e-sports competitions beginning next year. It’s not alone, as several U.S. casinos are turning to e-sports as a way to attract younger tourists and pump up growth. Downtown Grand in Las Vegas and Caesars in Atlantic City are two others that are opening up e-sports attractions. Other casinos on the Las Vegas strip are looking to restaurants and entertainment to jumpstart revenue growth. Continue reading Casinos Face Decline in Gambling Revenue, Turn to E-Sports

Amazon, Google, Microsoft Democratize AI Tools in the Cloud

Recently, Microsoft software that integrates machine learning spotted a temperature problem in a massive beer vat at Deschutes Brewery, and automatically fixed it, saving the company from a big loss. Deschutes Brewery accesses the software via Microsoft’s cloud computing service, a growing trend among all kinds of businesses relying on such tools from Amazon and Google as well as Microsoft. Use of AI is becoming more widespread as it becomes available as software in the cloud, rather than a huge hardware expenditure. Continue reading Amazon, Google, Microsoft Democratize AI Tools in the Cloud

Tech Companies Plan to Open Major Data Centers Worldwide

Some of the world’s biggest technology companies — namely, Amazon, Microsoft and Google — are investing in massive data centers, dubbed hyperscale computing, to better provide services in the cloud. In that vein, Amazon just announced that it will open an immense network of data centers in Stockholm next year. According to company filings, the three companies spent $31.54 billion in 2016 alone in capital expenditures and leases, in major part linked to improving cloud offerings, which increased 22 percent from 2015. Continue reading Tech Companies Plan to Open Major Data Centers Worldwide

Startup Lightform Readies Release of Inexpensive AR Scanner

Augmented reality startup Lightform has come out of the stealth mode it’s been in for three years, announcing a $2.6 million funding round from former Oculus head scientist Steven LaValle, Lux Capital, Seven Seas and NSF. What Lightform has been working on is a device that can scan the environment and create a high-resolution mesh, which it then combines with very precisely targeted digital projections of light. That makes it capable of creating augmented reality in any environment, without the need for a headset. Continue reading Startup Lightform Readies Release of Inexpensive AR Scanner

China and Others Vie for Top Scientists in Race to Dominate AI

When Chinese company Baidu was able to lure Andrew Ng away from his position leading Google Brain, that company’s deep-learning project, it seemed like a good omen for China’s prospects in AI. Now, however, Ng has left Baidu, and China’s ability to compete with U.S. companies is in question. That’s in part because Chinese tech firms rely on free-agent talent to lead research, and Ng’s departure makes it unclear whether they can retain foreign talent. But even U.S. firms are vying for top talent in the burgeoning field. Continue reading China and Others Vie for Top Scientists in Race to Dominate AI

World Wide Web Consortium Proposes HTML5 DRM Standard

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has formally moved its Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) anti-piracy mechanism to the stage of Proposed Recommendation. The decision of whether or not to adopt the EME standard now depends on a poll of W3C’s members, which have until April 19 to respond. Although the proposed standard has many critics, W3C director/HTML inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has personally endorsed it. Engineers from Google, Microsoft and Netflix created EME, which has been under development for some time. Continue reading World Wide Web Consortium Proposes HTML5 DRM Standard

Facebook Tests Trans-Atlantic Data Transmission, Sets Record

Facebook engineers tested the transmission of information across a trans-Atlantic-Internet cable, claiming they set a record by pushing two-and-a-half-times more data than current methods. The test was based on hardware designed by the Nokia-owned R&D facility Bell Labs, and relied on optical fiber Facebook owns inside the America Europe Connect (AEC) undersea cable that spans from New York to Ireland. Facebook’s test is part of a trend whereby Internet companies, rather than infrastructure firms, are driving the evolution of the Internet. Continue reading Facebook Tests Trans-Atlantic Data Transmission, Sets Record

Samsung’s Digital Assistant Bixby to Roll Out With Galaxy S8

Samsung has become the latest tech giant to unveil a digital assistant, introducing Bixby, which will first appear with the upcoming Galaxy S8 smartphone. Unlike Siri and Cortana, Bixby is not a database capable of answering questions, but rather is intended to help users accomplish tasks. The Galaxy S8 will feature a dedicated button to launch Bixby, which will initially offer a few preinstalled apps in English and Korean only. Chinese and Spanish versions will unveil shortly after the phone’s debut. Continue reading Samsung’s Digital Assistant Bixby to Roll Out With Galaxy S8

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

Sony Holds Lead in Console Market, Platform Subs on the Rise

IHS Markit reports that Sony led the gaming hardware, software and service market last year, nearly doubling the share of Microsoft and its Xbox One. Sony is expected to continue its dominance through 2017. According to IHS, Sony captured 57 percent ($19.7 billion) of spending by gamers in 2016, “thanks to growth of digital console games,” notes VentureBeat, adding, however, “that the overall console game market shrank in 2016, and Nintendo is newly competitive this year with the launch of the Switch game console.” Additionally, Microsoft may experience a rebound this year with the launch of its PS4 competitor, Project Scorpio. Continue reading Sony Holds Lead in Console Market, Platform Subs on the Rise

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

PlayStation Now Service to Support Streaming of PS4 Games

Sony’s cloud-based PlayStation Now service currently offers subscribers access to 483 PS3 titles for streaming via PS4 consoles and Windows PCs. The service is about to expand its offerings with support for a new platform. In the next few weeks, the company will launch a private test of PlayStation 4 games on PS Now (select subscribers will receive emailed invitations). This means that gamers will no longer need a PlayStation 4 to experience the platform’s games. According to Sony, additional details will be shared “as we get closer to launch.” Continue reading PlayStation Now Service to Support Streaming of PS4 Games

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