Walmart and Google Partner to Better Compete With Amazon

Amazon dominates e-commerce, but now Google and Walmart Stores are partnered to compete. Google will enable customers to place orders via its virtual assistant, and Walmart will join Google’s online shopping market Google Express. Walmart will fulfill orders made through Google Express, and will also share consumers’ purchase history with Google, which streamlines re-ordering of products. Voice-enabled shopping is a rapidly growing market sector, with Amazon enabling it through its Alexa voice assistant and Echo speakers. Continue reading Walmart and Google Partner to Better Compete With Amazon

Amazon Files Patent for Safer Drone Delivery in Urban Areas

Amazon’s drone delivery program faces the challenge of getting drones near enough to large population centers, but the company just filed a patent application for a solution. What Amazon calls “multi-level fulfillment centers for unmanned aerial vehicles” would place drones in the midst of cities in vertical structures, thereby letting drones fly in and out of the building while avoiding pedestrians. Although this idea would solve one problem, it raises others pursuant to drones flying in the sky above a city. Continue reading Amazon Files Patent for Safer Drone Delivery in Urban Areas

Snap May Include AR Tech With Next-Generation Spectacles

While Snap extends availability of its $130 Spectacles into Europe, the company is reportedly developing a second generation of the photo- and video-recording glasses. The “project is closely guarded inside the company,” reports TechCrunch. Based on a recent patent application, “it seems increasingly likely that Spectacles II will ship with augmented reality features built in … Snap’s app is already primed to support such a move. It recently rolled out an augmented reality feature — called World Lenses — in April which allows users to place digital objects around them.” Snap has also been looking into other hardware possibilities, including drones and a 360-degree camera.

Continue reading Snap May Include AR Tech With Next-Generation Spectacles

Supreme Court Rules That Patent Laws Don’t Cover Resales

In a case involving Lexmark International, which makes ink cartridges for its printers, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the company could not avail itself of patent law to prevent others from refilling and selling the cartridges. In doing so, the court made a decision that will positively impact consumers who will no longer be forced to buy products only from the original source. With the ruling, vendors of refurbished, repaired or resold products, will be protected from copyright infringement charges. Continue reading Supreme Court Rules That Patent Laws Don’t Cover Resales

Disney Tests Prototype, Pursues Patent for Soft-Bodied Robot

Disney recently submitted a patent application for “a robot that will move and physically interact like an animated character.” The prototype sketch with the application shows a round body similar to the soft-robot character in Disney’s 2014 “Big Hero 6.” Before soft-body robots can be employed at Disney theme parks, the company will have to deal with the issue of robotic interaction safety, since the patent application implies that theme park guests will be able to hug the soft-body characters. Continue reading Disney Tests Prototype, Pursues Patent for Soft-Bodied Robot

NBCUniversal Awarded Patent to Halt Illegal BitTorrent Piracy

NBCUniversal just received a patent to track files, in real-time, shared by groups on peer-to-peer networks, part of an anti-piracy effort. “Early detection of high volume peer-to-peer swarms,” the title of the patent, looks for a popular swarm so that the copyright holders can take action before it is “too late to do much good.” Detection relies on a data feed of peer-to-peer swarm activity, augmented by a data analytics engine that processes the data to identify swarms with parameters exceeding a threshold. Continue reading NBCUniversal Awarded Patent to Halt Illegal BitTorrent Piracy

Apple Patents Technology to Disable Cellphone Photos/Video

A new Apple patent, spotted on Patently Apple, will enable venues from museums to concert arenas to enforce their often-flouted rules against photography. The patent describes a system whereby a venue can use an infrared emitter to remotely block the camera function on smartphones. The smartphone interprets the infrared beams as a command to block photos and videos. Musicians who routinely — and fruitlessly — ban cellphone photography at their concerts will likely welcome the technology. Continue reading Apple Patents Technology to Disable Cellphone Photos/Video

Apple Steps Up Its VR Efforts with Acquisition of Flyby Media

While Facebook, Google and Microsoft have already invested significant resources in developing virtual reality and augmented reality, Apple is just getting started. The tech giant acquired an augmented reality startup called Flyby Media, which develops technology for image-recognition on smartphones. Flyby Media previously worked with Google on “Project Tango.” Apple also hired Doug Bowman, an expert in human-computer interaction and immersion in virtual environments. Continue reading Apple Steps Up Its VR Efforts with Acquisition of Flyby Media

GM Debuts Maven, Program for Several Car-Sharing Initiatives

Electric cars, autonomous cars and ride-sharing are all disruptors in the automotive industry, but General Motors, for one, is focusing on taking advantage of opportunities in changing times. The company just launched Maven, a program that aggregates its various car-sharing efforts, with a team of 40 GM staff and others from Google, Zipcar and Sidecar, with the goal of developing additional car-sharing services. First up is a car-sharing trial in Ann Arbor, Michigan, focusing on the university community. Continue reading GM Debuts Maven, Program for Several Car-Sharing Initiatives

Google’s Hologram Patent Opens Door for AR with Magic Leap

Google just received a patent, filed in March 2014, for using holograms in a head-mounted display such as Google Glass. In the months since the patent filing, Google has also led a $542 million funding round for Magic Leap, a Florida-based startup specializing in augmented reality, by which digital imagery is superimposed over the real world. But Google is mum on how — or if — it plans to marry the patent with its other technologies, most specifically Google Glass, and Magic Leap’s capabilities in AR. Continue reading Google’s Hologram Patent Opens Door for AR with Magic Leap

Could Facebook Patent Be Used to Approve or Deny Loans?

Facebook just filed for a patent that tracks how users are networked together. The patent can be used to prevent people from sending spam to those they’re not legitimately connected with. But the patent filing also describes a less savory possibility: that banks and other lenders could examine the credit scores of those in your network when deciding whether or not to make a loan to you. For some experts, at least, this conjures up visions of housing discrimination, aimed at the poor and people of color. Continue reading Could Facebook Patent Be Used to Approve or Deny Loans?

New Patent Group Wants Royalties for 4K HEVC Video Codec

HEVC Advance, a new patent group, has warned that it will demand royalties for the HEVC video codec that allows 4K streaming within the same bandwidth now used for 1080p streaming. HEVC, which also can provide 1080p streaming in half the bandwidth, has been seen as the best solution for cost-effective 4K, and the current threat could torpedo its adoption. Currently, HEVC-supported smart TVs have enabled Netflix’s 4K services on those receivers; some smartphones also use HEVC. Continue reading New Patent Group Wants Royalties for 4K HEVC Video Codec

Tech Industry Fears Implications of Apple-Samsung Patent War

The patent war between Apple and Samsung resulted in Samsung turning over profits from Galaxy products to Apple based on patent infringements. The implications of the case motivated major tech companies including Dell, eBay, Facebook, Google, HP and others to form a coalition in a “friend of the court briefing” siding with Samsung, filed July 1 with a federal appeals court. The companies are concerned the ruling could subject the industry to more lawsuits, hinder future innovation, and limit customer choices across the entire tech sector. Continue reading Tech Industry Fears Implications of Apple-Samsung Patent War

New Projector Tech from Google Turns Any Walls into Screens

Google’s new projector technology is not the traditional blinding display that merely projects movies. It is designed to be more subtle to serve as a changing background to everyday life. The technology interacts with walls that are coated with photo-reactive paint. The projection system works similarly to e-ink technology, and an image would remain on the wall until a new image replaces it. The transparent photo-reactive paint can be used to turn any surface in a house or business into a screen. Continue reading New Projector Tech from Google Turns Any Walls into Screens

Augmented Reality: 3D Virtual Tech Being Developed for Drones

French company Sysveo is developing software that will enable drones to see and record virtual 3D images in the videos they shoot while in flight. The technology would work so that a drone could be programmed to display the specific blueprints of a building or home for example, against the background of a location such as a neighborhood or city. The project, which is currently in an early stage, is being developed on a patent from France’s CNES space agency and funding from the European Space Agency. Continue reading Augmented Reality: 3D Virtual Tech Being Developed for Drones

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