Nokia Phone Features Zeiss Optics, 360 Video, Spatial Audio

The once-popular Finnish smartphone manufacturer Nokia, now under the aegis of HMD Global, is introducing a new mobile device. With its Android-based Nokia 8, the company hopes to compete with the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S8. HMD Global, led by former Nokia employees and funded by private equity, bought Nokia’s phone tech from Microsoft, which purchased it in 2013. The flagship phone, encased in polished aluminum, is 7.9-mm thick and features a high-resolution 5.3-inch screen, 4K video recording, Carl Zeiss optics and spatial audio emanating from its 360-degree camera. Continue reading Nokia Phone Features Zeiss Optics, 360 Video, Spatial Audio

Google Purchases AIMatter to Boost Computer Vision Efforts

Google just acquired AIMatter, a Belarus startup that will boost the tech giant’s efforts in computer vision, the artificial intelligence sector that helps computers process images as well as, or even better, than humans. AIMatter has already built a neural-network-powered AI platform and SDK that quickly processes images on mobile devices, as well as Fabby, a photo/video editing app that has been used as a proof-of-concept. AIMatter has employees in Minsk, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Zurich, Switzerland. Continue reading Google Purchases AIMatter to Boost Computer Vision Efforts

Pinterest Updates its Visual Search, Adds New Zoom Feature

Following last month’s updates making search and Lens functions more easily accessible via the home feed of Pinterest’s app, the popular photo-sharing and discovery platform has now added the ability to zoom inside Pins for a closer look at images and GIFs. The new feature (presently available for iOS and coming soon to Android) is one of the app’s most user-requested features. It is also joined by an updated visual search for finding specific objects. Interestingly, the same image search is available starting this week without a Pinterest account, via the Chrome browser extension. Continue reading Pinterest Updates its Visual Search, Adds New Zoom Feature

W Magazine Tests New Features Enabled by AR Technology

Fashion-centric publication W Magazine, in partnership with visual effects house The Mill, features augmented reality in its September 2017 Collector’s Issue. With Katy Perry on the cover, the issue appears to be an ordinary magazine, but if a user views it through a smartphone or tablet lens, he will see various augmented reality images. The viewer must first install W Magazine’s new companion app, Beyond the Page, available for iOS and Android, that activates the AR imagery in the issue. Continue reading W Magazine Tests New Features Enabled by AR Technology

Facebook Takes New Tack by Approving Social App in China

Facebook has made several efforts over the years to encourage China to lift the 2009 block against its social platform and many of its apps. In May, the company approved a photo-sharing app called Colorful Balloons that doesn’t have the Facebook name attached but is similar in look, function and feel to Facebook’s Moments app. According to an unnamed source, a local Chinese company debuted the app without any hint of a Facebook affiliation. China imposes strict censorship on the Internet, including on news websites and apps. Continue reading Facebook Takes New Tack by Approving Social App in China

Leaks Point to SmartCam Debut in Upcoming Apple iPhones

Developers digging through the firmware of Apple’s upcoming smart speaker, HomePod, found evidence that the company’s iPhone camera may soon use machine learning to recognize objects and scenes and adjust settings to create the best photo, all in real-time. That’s the information made public in a HomePod firmware leak. Unclear is whether that feature will be introduced with the iPhone 8 this fall, although developer Guilherme Rambo has discovered details that suggest it will debut as “SmartCam” capability. Continue reading Leaks Point to SmartCam Debut in Upcoming Apple iPhones

Researchers Focus on Computational Photography Solutions

Google and MIT scientists have collaborated to explore how computational photography, which uses machine learning and specialized algorithms, can be used to retouch photos in real time. The team trained neural networks via 5,000 images created by Adobe and MIT; five different photographers retouched each image, teaching the software the various ways a photo could be improved. Elsewhere, Nvidia and UC Santa Barbara created a computational zoom for photographers that lets them change a photo’s perspective in post production. Continue reading Researchers Focus on Computational Photography Solutions

Smithsonian Art Museum, Intel Partner on Three VR Exhibits

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has partnered with Intel to create a room-scale VR demo of the art in one wing, for the enjoyment of far-flung art lovers. To produce the immersive experience, the two partners relied on studios including V.A.L.I.S., Framestore, xRez and 8i. The demonstration consists of three interactive experiences, and is a good case study on how museums can utilize virtual reality to extend their relationship with the public. Other museums, such as the British Museum, have also experimented with VR. Continue reading Smithsonian Art Museum, Intel Partner on Three VR Exhibits

Pinterest and Google Compete to Offer the Top Visual Search

Pinterest is highlighting the “Search” and “Lens” features on its mobile apps, emphasizing its move into this arena. Lens, which was introduced to U.S. users this year, is a reverse image search tool that allows users to take a photograph of something and then use smart search to return pins with similar images and related design ideas. Lens is now available to users of the iOS application; Pinterest says it will soon launch the Android version. Google is also upgrading its visual search engine to compete in this space. Continue reading Pinterest and Google Compete to Offer the Top Visual Search

Plex Live TV Adds Time-Shifting, Comes to Apple TV, Android

The Plex Live TV service, including its DVR feature, is coming out of beta today and expanding support to include Apple TV and Android devices. The service was originally available for iOS and Android TV platforms, including the Nvidia Shield. In addition to accessing live television programming from within the Plex app, users will be introduced to a new time-shifting feature that enables them to rewind, fast-forward and pause live programs. Plex says that its Live TV and DVR features will be available for Roku and Fire TV platforms next. Continue reading Plex Live TV Adds Time-Shifting, Comes to Apple TV, Android

Facebook Looks to WhatsApp, Video Ads for Future Growth

Facebook reported a 71 percent jump in profits in Q2 this year, even as the company is running out of room for more advertisements on News Feed, its primary source of revenue. Both Facebook and Google, which established the digital platform for ads as dominant, are faced with thinking about what comes next. As reported earlier, Google ads have surged 52 percent on mobile devices and YouTube, but its per-click revenue is down. Facebook is eyeing Messenger and WhatsApp, its two chat apps, for growth. Continue reading Facebook Looks to WhatsApp, Video Ads for Future Growth

Amazon Spark: New Social Feed of Product Images, Stories

Now out of beta, Amazon launched a new social feature in the U.S. yesterday that is designed to return social activity surrounding products back to the Amazon site while hopefully improving product discovery for its users. Similar to the approach of Instagram’s shoppable photos, Amazon Spark allows users to post images, new ideas and related posts regarding products they find interesting. To foster social interaction, other users can respond with their own comments and “smiles” — Amazon’s take on “favorite” and “like” buttons. Continue reading Amazon Spark: New Social Feed of Product Images, Stories

Anytime: Amazon May Be Developing a New Messaging App

Amazon may be developing a standalone messaging app called Anytime that would allow people to connect without the need to include phone numbers, which is how other messaging apps such as Viber and WhatsApp typically connect. The company has reportedly been running a survey to gather feedback about a service “for smartphones, tablets, PCs and smart watches designed to let people chat with text and video, send each other fun photos with filters, play games and engage with other Amazon services,” reports TechCrunch. Earlier this year, AWS launched a communication service called Chime for enterprise customers. Continue reading Anytime: Amazon May Be Developing a New Messaging App

Unity’s Cinemachine Designed for Animation, Games, Movies

At the Unite Europe conference in Amsterdam, more than 1,400 game developers examined tools and innovations from game engine company Unity. Among those was the virtual camera system Cinemachine, which makes it easier for even neophyte content creators to get creative with animation, games, eSports, cinematics and movie pre-visualization. Unity’s Asset Store offers free 3D models and environments, including the Adam character from last year’s impressive tech demo. The engine also offers generic animations that can be applied to characters. Continue reading Unity’s Cinemachine Designed for Animation, Games, Movies

Media Companies Are Creating Video Content for Echo Show

Amazon launched its $230 Echo Show smart speaker this week. The device features voice control powered by digital assistant Alexa and a 7-inch touchscreen with the ability to display photos and video. Another key feature is the speaker’s Flash Briefing that provides a customizable playlist of news updates upon request. Since videos are made available to users through Flash Briefings, media companies — including Bloomberg, CNN, Fox News, NBC and Reuters — are already producing video content specifically for the Echo Show and updating their Alexa Skills. Continue reading Media Companies Are Creating Video Content for Echo Show

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