Microsoft Develops Its Own Chips to Power AI in the Cloud

Microsoft is developing a chip designed specifically for artificial intelligence processing. A version of its Holographic Processing Unit, used for its HoloLens headset, the new chip will be integrated with the next version of HoloLens, to be launched at an as-of-yet undetermined date. Microsoft isn’t alone in taking chip manufacturing in-house, especially with regards to AI processing. Apple’s iPhone prototypes include the company’s AI-specific chip, and Google is working on its own second-generation AI chip. Continue reading Microsoft Develops Its Own Chips to Power AI in the Cloud

Google Push Could Spark Quantum Computing in the Cloud

Google is getting closer to offering quantum computing over the cloud. It’s uncertain if a quantum computer, which is based on “qubits” rather than 1s and 0s, can out-perform a supercomputer, but Google and other companies are betting it will be able to perform certain important tasks millions of times faster. Google and its rivals would be more likely to rent quantum computing over the Internet, since the computers are too bulky and require too much special care to live in most companies’ data centers. Continue reading Google Push Could Spark Quantum Computing in the Cloud

Microsoft Takes a Bigger Stake in AI With New Lab, Projects

The new Microsoft Research AI lab is now open for business, targeting the creation of a single system of general artificial intelligence that can flexibly work on a range of problems. Based at company headquarters in Washington state, the lab will be home to more than 100 scientists whose AI research spans fields including perception, learning, reasoning and natural language processing. The lab’s goal of general AI differs from narrow AI, which performs one task very well, such as facial recognition. Continue reading Microsoft Takes a Bigger Stake in AI With New Lab, Projects

Apple to Open New Data Center in China With Local Partner

Apple will open its first data center in southwest China, in response to a new Chinese law that requires companies to store data within its borders. The data center, which will be operated in partnership with a local data management company, is part of a $1 billion investment Apple will make in the Guizhou province. Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft have built data centers in Germany, France and the Netherlands among other countries for technical reasons and in response to security concerns of governments and customers. Continue reading Apple to Open New Data Center in China With Local Partner

Apple Installs Interactive HomeKit Experiences in 46 Stores

In an effort to help consumers better understand the benefits of Apple HomeKit products, Apple has installed interactive smart-home displays in 46 of its retail locations worldwide. Apple customers can use the Home mobile app via an Apple Watch, iPhone or iPad to perform functions such as turning on Philips Hue light bulbs and controlling Hunter ceiling fan speeds. Apple’s Home app allows users to control HomeKit-enabled smart devices from a single location (or even collectively with a single command) by tapping the screen or interacting with virtual assistant Siri. Continue reading Apple Installs Interactive HomeKit Experiences in 46 Stores

Microsoft to Provide White-Space Broadband in Rural Areas

Microsoft has a plan for providing inexpensive broadband access to underserved areas of the U.S., and its president/chief legal officer Brad Smith just declared the company’s support for that plan. The company has long advocated the use of so-called TV white-space technology — unused TV spectrum — to bring broadband especially to rural areas. As part of the plan, Microsoft would also urge the Trump administration and Congress to make sure that unlicensed white-space spectrum is available in every market in the U.S. Continue reading Microsoft to Provide White-Space Broadband in Rural Areas

W3C Approves the EME Standard for DRM-Protected Video

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which oversees standards for the web, approved a new system for handling DRM-protected video. Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) work by letting DRM systems connect directly to the user’s browser. EME lets streaming video services protect their content without forcing users to install plugins that can be insecure. But not everyone is happy. Some researchers and advocates of the open Internet believe EME will give browser developers and content providers too much power. Continue reading W3C Approves the EME Standard for DRM-Protected Video

Apple, Microsoft, Uber Turn to New Data Privacy Technology

Apple instituted a privacy technology, called differential privacy, that enables its software to understand users without spying on their activities. Now, Microsoft and Uber are also trying out the same technology. While differential privacy reportedly can keep data anonymous, experts warn that it’s becoming easier than ever to identify people from anonymous data sets. That includes biometrics; Citigroup has abandoned a project begun in 2015 to allow customers to scan their irises to access their accounts at an ATM. Continue reading Apple, Microsoft, Uber Turn to New Data Privacy Technology

Samsung and Alibaba Join the Digital Assistant Speaker Race

According to sources, Samsung Electronics is integrating its digital assistant Bixby into a voice-activated speaker, in a project dubbed “Vega” that has been ongoing for more than a year. Competition is stiff in the voice-powered speaker market, with popular options from a variety of tech leaders. Digital assistants — including Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and now Samsung’s Bixby — use artificial intelligence to “learn” over time. New speakers are joining the race later this year, and China’s Alibaba Group is currently debuting an inexpensive version, Tmall Genie. Continue reading Samsung and Alibaba Join the Digital Assistant Speaker Race

Google Releases Public Beta of Cloud Video Intelligence API

Google’s Cloud Video Intelligence API just entered public beta. Using a system called label detection, the API lets users upload a video and get back information about the objects appearing in it. Google also added support to identify pornographic content and announced improvements to the Cloud Vision API to make several features more accurate. By putting its Cloud Video Intelligence API into public beta, Google is taking another step in its plan to make artificial intelligence more accessible to more developers. Continue reading Google Releases Public Beta of Cloud Video Intelligence API

Netflix to Support Dolby Atmos Surround Sound for Streaming

Netflix plans to support Dolby Atmos surround sound, adding a premium spatial audio format to its existing 4K and HDR technology for images. Dolby Atmos, which debuted in 2012, is not only featured in movie theaters around the world but has been adopted by home theater systems from Denon, Pioneer and others. Microsoft now supports Dolby Atmos with the Xbox One, as do many manufacturers of sound bars and headphones. Hundreds of 2016 LG OLED TV owners are also now clamoring for Dolby Atmos support. Continue reading Netflix to Support Dolby Atmos Surround Sound for Streaming

Finnish Startup Varjo to Debut VR Headset With Better Vision

Finnish startup Varjo aims to improve the resolution of images seen through VR and AR headsets. Ordinarily, the viewer with a VR headset sees the most detail looking straight ahead, in a rectangle comprising about 5 percent of his field of view. Varjo’s founders want to change that, especially for designers, architects and other professionals who work with 3D models. Resolution with VR and AR headsets from Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Microsoft HoloLens has improved, but nowhere near the level we see in real life. Continue reading Finnish Startup Varjo to Debut VR Headset With Better Vision

White House American Technology Council Draws Top Execs

At the conclusion of the inaugural meeting of the White House’s American Technology Council, President Donald Trump called for a “sweeping transformation of the federal government’s technology,” admitting that the government needed to catch up with the private sector and that federal agencies had to deliver “dramatically better services to citizens.” The Council’s mandate is to convert paper forms into easy-to-use websites, and help the government buy better technology and use new tools like artificial intelligence. Continue reading White House American Technology Council Draws Top Execs

Comparing Major Cloud Storage Services by Price, Features

Amazon just pulled the plug on its Unlimited Everything plan, which allowed users to keep as much as they wanted in their private Amazon cloud “locker” for a mere $60 per year. That figure is at least half of the industry standard of $10 per month for 1TB of space. Although Unlimited Everything, which launched in 2015, has come to an end, Amazon’s new offering is still relatively inexpensive, at that same $60 per year for 1TB and an extra $60 for every additional terabyte up to 30TB. Continue reading Comparing Major Cloud Storage Services by Price, Features

Microsoft Xbox One X Console Offers 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos

Microsoft’s next videogame console, the Xbox One X, is its smallest gaming console ever, with advanced capabilities in power, speed and resolution, offering true 4K. The new console will be compatible with games made for the Xbox One and Xbox 360, which will benefit from the Xbox One X’s increased speed and improved resolution and graphics. The new console, which also features HDR (high dynamic range) playback and Dolby Atmos sound, will go on sale November 7th for $499. Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro debuted in November for $399. Continue reading Microsoft Xbox One X Console Offers 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos

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