Instagram Mimics Snapchat and Periscope with New Features

Facebook’s Instagram just debuted two new features for live streaming video and ephemeral messaging, both of which reflect the popularity of such features in Snap’s Snapchat and Twitter’s live-streaming Periscope. By doing so, Instagram has heated up its competition with Snapchat and now competes more directly with Periscope. Instagram, which will roll out the new video features to a small group before a wider launch, also recently introduced Instagram Stories, which apes Snapchat Stories.  Continue reading Instagram Mimics Snapchat and Periscope with New Features

Facebook Acquires FacioMetrics for Human Emotion Detection

Facebook has acquired FacioMetrics, a startup spun off from Carnegie Mellon University. FacioMetrics’ IntraFace can detect seven different emotions on peoples’ faces. Since the purchase, FacioMetrics has been removed from the app stores. The acquisition is likely fueling Facebook’s goal to apply its artificial intelligence research to create “gesture-based controls, recognize facial expressions and perform related actions.” Facebook has said it will use FacioMetrics to enhance its augmented reality face masks. Continue reading Facebook Acquires FacioMetrics for Human Emotion Detection

Facebook’s Instagram Plans to Integrate Live Video Streaming

According to Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing site plans to add live video streaming. Systrom believes live video could help strengthen user relationships; however, he did not specify how or when Instragram would introduce the feature. “Reports indicate that Instagram has already been testing live video streaming with some of its users, displaying live streams from contacts similar to the way it currently surfaces the recently-launched Instagram Stories feature,” explains Variety. Introduced in August, Instagram Stories is similar to Snapchat in that its images and videos disappear after 24 hours. Continue reading Facebook’s Instagram Plans to Integrate Live Video Streaming

Facebook Takes on Snapchat with New Flash Messaging App

Facebook launched a picture and messaging application that’s nearly identical to Snapchat, something it has already attempted to do twice. Both previous attempts — Poke and then Slingshot — failed. But this new app, Flash, which is about one-third a big as Snapchat’s Android app for Google’s new Pixel phone, is aimed specifically at emerging markets where Wi-Fi and connectivity are both scarce commodities. This move makes it clear that Facebook hopes to dominate in a market that Snapchat has not yet taken over. Continue reading Facebook Takes on Snapchat with New Flash Messaging App

Facebook Borrows From Snapchat, Periscope Adds AR Masks

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery it’s said, and that’s what’s going on among social media platforms. Facebook’s WhatsApp is experimenting with a Status feature that is basically a photocopy of Snapchat Stories, sharing photos, videos and emoji. Elsewhere, Periscope is copying both Facebook and Snapchat, by offering its own animated augmented reality selfie masks. The first ones offered, which allow the user to look like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, have been available throughout the duration of the election. Continue reading Facebook Borrows From Snapchat, Periscope Adds AR Masks

Instagram Introduces a Test Version of E-Commerce Feature

In May, Instagram designers, engineers and product managers brainstormed ideas on how to make shopping work in the app. Now, six months later, they’re introducing the winning idea: Brands can tag products in their photos, much the way users tag friends. A single tap will reveal more information about the product, and another tap will send you to the retailer’s site to buy the product. After the launch, Instagram will gather data from how consumers use the new feature to improve it. Continue reading Instagram Introduces a Test Version of E-Commerce Feature

Facebook Shows Off AR Masks, Stylized Filters for Live Video

After acquiring the face-tracking and 3D face replacement company MSQRD, Facebook integrated its augmented reality selfie lenses, dubbed Masks, starting with a Halloween skeleton, witch and pumpkin. Users in the U.S., U.K. and New Zealand, and public figures, will be able to use the iOS version of Masks on Facebook Mentions. The company says it will rollout masks to Android and other countries in coming months. Facebook also demonstrated stylized filters, which will be a real-time processing option for Live Video. Continue reading Facebook Shows Off AR Masks, Stylized Filters for Live Video

Deep Learning Pioneer Yoshua Bengio Launches AI Incubator

Yoshua Bengio, a leader in deep learning and professor at the University of Montreal, is opening Element AI, a startup incubator focused on this form of artificial intelligence. The incubator will help develop AI-centric companies coming from both Bengio’s university and nearby McGill University, part of Bengio’s stated goal of creating an “AI ecosystem” in this Canadian city. According to Bengio, Montreal is home to “the biggest concentration in the world” of researchers in the powerful field of deep learning. Continue reading Deep Learning Pioneer Yoshua Bengio Launches AI Incubator

Facebook Develops Video Filters, Retools Publishing Policies

To encourage users to publish videos on Facebook Live, Facebook is developing new filters, currently in prototype, that will help users create compelling looks for video. Video’s importance to Facebook — and, indeed, all social media platforms — is growing, expected to account for 71 percent of all Facebook mobile traffic by 2021. With the new filters, videos look as if Monet or Rembrandt painted them. The company reiterated it’s “not a media company” even as it grapples with issues that news organizations face. Continue reading Facebook Develops Video Filters, Retools Publishing Policies

Netgear Nighthawk Router Ideal for 4K Streaming, VR Gaming

Netgear is launching its $500 Nighthawk X10, which the company claims is the “world’s fastest router.” The X10 features quad-stream Wave 2 Wi-Fi architecture, a 10-gigabit port and a 1.7-gigahertz quad-core processor, the fastest processor found in a home router today. Intended for 4K video streaming, instant backup and VR gaming, the Nighthawk X10 Smart Wi-Fi Router can handle next-gen 802.11ad Wi-Fi and speeds up to 7.2 gigabits per second. “The Nighthawk X10 supports Plex Media Server with transcoding for smooth 4K streaming, even to remote devices,” reports VentureBeat. “It is also the industry’s first router to run Plex Media Server without the need for a computer.” Continue reading Netgear Nighthawk Router Ideal for 4K Streaming, VR Gaming

Snapchat Swaps Shared Ad Dollars with New Licensing Deals

Snapchat just changed how it compensates the companies that supply content for its Discover section. Rather than share ad revenue, Snapchat plans to pay content partners a flat licensing fee — similar to what traditional TV networks do. When Discover launched in 2015, Snapchat shared ad revenue, with the terms varying depending on the specifics of the partnership and sales team. The new plan is a win-win: Snapchat will fully control its ad inventory and publishers will have a guaranteed and reliable compensation for content. Continue reading Snapchat Swaps Shared Ad Dollars with New Licensing Deals

Uber and MasterCard Moving to Selfies for Identity Verification

Uber Technologies, MasterCard and the Alabama Department of Revenue are among the handful of companies and government agencies beginning to use selfies, rather than passwords, as proof of identity. Smartphone cameras take better quality photos than before and facial recognition software is more accessible and affordable, which makes this a new option. But some experts in cybercrime aren’t as sanguine, worried that this way of proving identity is riddled with both security and privacy issues. Continue reading Uber and MasterCard Moving to Selfies for Identity Verification

Verizon Plans to Launch New Internet Data Service for Drones

After two years of working on the technology, Verizon will soon connect drones to its wireless network, with drone data plans starting at $25 a month for 1 gigabyte of data and $80 for 10 gigabytes, similar to what consumers are already paying for data. The company just demonstrated the technology with drone manufacturer American Aerospace Technologies at Cape May, New Jersey. The new drone data plan will allow consumers to connect their drones to the Internet, streaming videos and photos to earth. Continue reading Verizon Plans to Launch New Internet Data Service for Drones

Drone Industry Is Under Rapid Change in Southern California

Drone operators are beginning to realize the commercial potential of UAVs. In Southern California, for example, drones are being used for film production, sports coverage, wedding photography, map-making and more. According to Los Angeles Daily News, drone operators are also making money with applications such as: “examining the health of agricultural crops,” “monitoring the progress of construction projects,” “documenting the installation of rooftop solar panels in order to claim federal tax credits,” “selling commercial, industrial and residential real estate” and “surveying electric wires, pipelines, railroad tracks, dams and canals for damage.” Meanwhile, companies including Amazon and Google are experimenting with drone delivery services. Continue reading Drone Industry Is Under Rapid Change in Southern California

Plex, Amazon Launch Beta Test of Cloud-Based Media Center

Digital media center manufacturer Plex is debuting Plex Cloud, which runs its server on Amazon Drive without a local computer or network-attached storage drive. A select group of beta testers will get their hands on Plex Cloud, enabling them to set up a Plex server in one minute and use Amazon’s consumer cloud storage service, including the ability to stream media to any device. This change removes one of the biggest obstacles to adoption of Plex’s solution for personal media: the need for a dedicated server. Continue reading Plex, Amazon Launch Beta Test of Cloud-Based Media Center

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