Oculus Recognizes Virtual Reality Hype, Defends its Potential

Virtual reality has been on a major roll … at least until this year. When Oculus executives sold their startup to Facebook in 2014 for about $3 billion, VR was riding high. The purchase prompted tech giants such as Google and Microsoft to speed up their VR headset development, and sparked a wave of investments and new startups. But this year, interest in VR has arguably slumped, as some consumers seem to have grown disappointed. Oculus has not helped the sentiment, since it has not revealed any official figures about Rift sales, but still very much believes in the technology’s potential. Continue reading Oculus Recognizes Virtual Reality Hype, Defends its Potential

Amazon’s Alexa Now Recognizes Up to Ten Different Voices

Amazon stated that an Alexa-enabled device can create a Voice Profile by the user reciting ten phrases to the Alexa app, which allows it to then recognize that individual’s voice. The AI-powered assistant will then deliver results based on the user’s profile or previously enacted preferences. This capability will first be available for shopping on Amazon, Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers, news briefings, calls and messages (not including SMS messages). More features will be unveiled in the future. Continue reading Amazon’s Alexa Now Recognizes Up to Ten Different Voices

Hollywood Studios Join Disney for Movies Anywhere Service

While a formal announcement is pending, insiders report that 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures are among the Hollywood studios that will be joining Disney’s Movies Anywhere service, which enables consumers to purchase movies from authenticated platforms — including Amazon Video, Fios by Verizon, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft and Vudu — and store them in a digital locker so that they can be viewed on multiple devices. Disney Movies Anywhere, powered by KeyChest storage technology, was first introduced in 2014 when other studios were supporting the UltraViolet format. Continue reading Hollywood Studios Join Disney for Movies Anywhere Service

Samsung Takes on Rift With Windows Mixed Reality Headset

Microsoft and Samsung have partnered on a new virtual reality headset, HMD Odyssey, that relies on the former’s Windows Mixed Reality, Windows 10 software for immersive computing on devices and headsets. Samsung is not the first company to base its VR headsets on Windows 10: Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo Group are all building such VR devices. But Samsung is Microsoft’s most important partner thus far as the computing company faces Apple, Google, Facebook and other major rivals in the virtual reality/augmented reality arena. Continue reading Samsung Takes on Rift With Windows Mixed Reality Headset

Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

At the Microsoft Ignite annual IT event in Orlando, Florida this week, Microsoft announced it will soon debut a customer-service virtual assistant as part of its Dynamics 365 product line that will incorporate artificial intelligence. A user will be able to describe a problem in her own words, and the virtual assistant will answer by relying on user manuals, help documents and other materials. The customer can request a human, in which case the bot will assist the human customer service agent; a manager can view the result on a dashboard. Continue reading Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

Facebook, Microsoft, Telxius Transatlantic Cable Is Complete

The new underwater cable between North America and Europe, built through a partnership between Facebook, Microsoft and Telxius (a subsidiary of Telefónica), is now complete. Dubbed Marea (Spanish for “tide”), the new 4,000-mile subsea cable runs at a depth of 17,000 feet under the Atlantic from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Bilbao, Spain and has been under construction since August 2016. Marea will offer a capacity of 160 terabits per second, and will help meet the demand for high-speed Internet and cloud services. Continue reading Facebook, Microsoft, Telxius Transatlantic Cable Is Complete

CCleaner Malware Is Linked to Attack Against 20 Tech Firms

Security companies Morphisec and Cisco reported the extent of the damage caused by a malware attack on security software CCleaner. Experts say that the software, distributed by Czech company Avast, was targeted not simply to disrupt as many computers as possible, but to conduct espionage. Hackers penetrated the software and added a backdoor, ultimately installing malware on more than 700,000 computers. But hackers also sought to find computers among those infected that resided in networks of 20 leading tech firms. Continue reading CCleaner Malware Is Linked to Attack Against 20 Tech Firms

W3C Officially Recommends EME Spec for DRM Protection

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) specification as a recommendation, although W3C members only voted 58.4 percent to approve, with 30.8 percent opposing and 10.8 percent abstaining. EME is a standard interface for digital rights management (DRM) protection of content delivered through the browser, defining how Internet content works with third-party Content Decryption Modules (CDMs) that provide proprietary decryption and rights management. In response to the EME recommendation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has resigned from the W3C. Continue reading W3C Officially Recommends EME Spec for DRM Protection

As Threats to Cybersecurity Grow, So Does Cyberinsurance

Increasingly pervasive threats to cybersecurity have jumpstarted the cyberinsurance business to reach beyond technology companies, its core customers. Covering financial loss, including theft of data and ransomware, cyberinsurance is reportedly the fastest-growing coverage among U.S. companies; cyberinsurance firms provide competing tools to distinguish their offerings in the marketplace. Insurance is not in lieu of good security practices, but the idea of cyberinsurance is appealing even though it is largely untested. Continue reading As Threats to Cybersecurity Grow, So Does Cyberinsurance

Atlassian’s Stride Software Is Designed for Corporate Teams

Australia-based Atlassian, which offers enterprise software, has introduced a new program called Stride that combines chat, conference calls and project tracking. Similar to the company’s HipChat messaging service and Jira project management, Stride is available for desktop computers and mobile phones, and works with competing software. Stride faces a competitive landscape, including Slack Technologies, Dropbox and Microsoft. Atlassian doesn’t use salespeople but rather gets small teams to use its software, and then expands on that foundation. Continue reading Atlassian’s Stride Software Is Designed for Corporate Teams

Pirates Flock to Google Drive, Other Cloud Storage Services

DMCA takedown requests reveal that pirates of television and movie content are turning to cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Kim Dotcom’s Mega since the demise of many public torrent sites. Last month, almost 5,000 takedown requests centered on activity on Google Drive, with each listing a few hundred links. Although some Google Drive links host full movies, others are empty except for an embedded YouTube video. Google reiterated that it takes copyright infringement seriously. Continue reading Pirates Flock to Google Drive, Other Cloud Storage Services

Amazon Now Spends More on R&D Than Other Companies

Despite an overall slowdown in U.S. productivity, tech companies currently lead the charge in overall spending on research and development, a key factor in measuring productivity of an economy. According to data about companies in the S&P 500 collected by analytic software firm FactSet, Amazon spends more on R&D than any other company in the U.S., followed by Alphabet, Intel, Microsoft and Apple. Other tech companies on the Top 20 list include Oracle, Cisco, Facebook, IBM and Qualcomm. Continue reading Amazon Now Spends More on R&D Than Other Companies

Western Digital Acquires Upthere to Expand Cloud Services

Western Digital announced its acquisition of cloud services startup Upthere, which offers storage solutions for photos, videos, documents and music. “The Upthere app is platform agnostic and available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, as well as macOS and Windows PCs,” notes the press release. “The addition of Upthere’s technology and team to Western Digital’s Client Solutions business unit will enhance the company’s consumer products portfolio with new cloud-based offerings.” Upthere CEO Chris Bourdon and his team will continue under Western Digital. Barbara Nelson, formerly of cloud security business IronKey, will lead Western Digital’s Cloud Services business. Continue reading Western Digital Acquires Upthere to Expand Cloud Services

Amazon, Microsoft Partner to Connect Their Voice Assistants

In a competitive landscape, Amazon and Microsoft are forming a rare partnership to enable communication between their respective voice assistants, Alexa and Cortana. This will allow users to summon Cortana using Alexa and vice versa, by the end of 2017. Chief executives Jeff Bezos and Satya Nadella made the move because of their concern that keeping digital assistants in a walled garden could hold back their progress, and that, by facilitating communication between them, end users could enjoy each one’s unique strengths. Continue reading Amazon, Microsoft Partner to Connect Their Voice Assistants

LinkedIn Rolls Out Feature That Allows Users to Post Videos

Following a period of testing, LinkedIn is launching a “video” button on its iOS and Android apps, debuting it globally over several weeks. The button will allow users to record a new video or upload an existing one. According to the company, which is a subsidiary of Microsoft, it will allow users to share aspects of their professional lives in a new way, and to a professional audience. The addition of video on LinkedIn takes place as companies such as Apple, Facebook and YouTube are investing in original video content. Continue reading LinkedIn Rolls Out Feature That Allows Users to Post Videos

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