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

Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

Social media giant Facebook announced it now has 2 billion monthly active users. The new milestone comes five years after reaching 1 billion users, and 13 years after Mark Zuckerberg first launched the platform. According to TechCrunch, Facebook leads social apps based on number of logged-in users, “above YouTube’s 1.5 billion, WeChat’s 889 million, Twitter’s 328 million and Snapchat’s estimated 255 million.” Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger each have 1.2 billion users, while its Instagram photo-sharing app recently exceeded 700 million. Continue reading Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

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

Instagram Feature Brings Transparency to Sponsored Posts

Instagram has taken a step to increase transparency, giving Internet celebrities on the site an easier way to let viewers know if their posts are sponsored. Users and sponsors can work together to decide whether or not to tag a post as a “paid partnership” at the top. This new feature is currently being tested with a few celebrities and businesses. If it proves successful, Instagram will launch it more widely. Parent company Facebook already uses a similar method of disclosing such paid partnerships. Continue reading Instagram Feature Brings Transparency to Sponsored Posts

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

Facebook’s Open-Source Telecom Project Challenges Telcos

Voyager, Facebook’s telecom infrastructure effort, is a side project, but it’s still rattling the telecom industry, which worries that revenues from its specialized products are at risk. Facebook and European telecom company Telia tested Voyager over the latter’s thousand-kilometer-telecom network, and German-based ADVA Optical Networking, which is manufacturing the device, has nine potential customers trying it out. Also testing Voyager is Paris-based Orange, working with Equinix and African telecom company MTN. Continue reading Facebook’s Open-Source Telecom Project Challenges Telcos

Google Makes Bid to Expand Revenue Sources Beyond Search

The focus for Google at its annual I/O developer conference was artificial intelligence. Google Assistant will now be available for the Apple iPhone, a way to introduce millions more people to Google’s AI capabilities. Google also revealed more about its software development kit for Google Assistant, saying it will be better integrated into TVs, let the user type requests and questions, and add skills such as payments and receipts. Third party developers plan to integrate Assistant into numerous products. Continue reading Google Makes Bid to Expand Revenue Sources Beyond Search

Instagram Rolls Out AR Selfie Lenses, Adds Location Hashtag

Again copying a Snapchat feature, Instagram introduced a face icon with eight filters, allowing users to transform themselves. Among the filters are koala bears and bunnies (perfect for kids), and flower crowns, which might be a hit with teens. Nine months ago, Instagram debuted its disappearing Stories, aping the format made popular by Snapchat. Since then, Instagram Stories has built up 200 million daily active users, compared to Snap’s 166 million. Instagram hasn’t said if it will rotate or expand the filters over time. Continue reading Instagram Rolls Out AR Selfie Lenses, Adds Location Hashtag

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