Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

Google will spend $1.1 billion to purchase part of HTC’s smartphone operations. The Internet giant plans to use HTC’s engineering and design teams to help ramp up its nascent hardware efforts to complement its expanding portfolio of software products and grow its revenue beyond Android and search ads. The deal, which is expected to bring about 2,000 HTC employees to Google, also includes a non-exclusive licensing agreement for HTC intellectual property. While HTC has shown growth potential in VR with its Vive headset, its mobile business has been struggling. Continue reading Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

Cynora’s New OLED Tech Garners Samsung, LG Investment

Samsung Ventures, the South Korean company’s investment unit, and LG’s Display division has invested €25 million ($30 million) in Bruchsal, Germany-based OLED display firm Cynora, founded in 2008. Cynora calls itself a leader in TADF (thermally activated delayed fluorescence) technology and is also developing a new type of organic high-efficiency blue OLED emitting material. With the rising popularity of OLED displays, several companies are working on new OLED emitter materials that will last longer and not use heavy metals. Continue reading Cynora’s New OLED Tech Garners Samsung, LG Investment

Samsung Creates $300M Fund to Innovate Automotive Tech

Samsung Electronics has formed a $300 million Automotive Innovation Fund focused on technology for new cars. The South Korean electronics company previously showed interest in the automotive industry, spending $8 billion to buy auto parts supplier Harman International. According to Samsung, its first investment from the new fund — €75 million ($89 million) — was to partner with Austria-based TTTech, a company that protects the real-time computer systems used in smart vehicles. Audi is another major investor in TTTech. Continue reading Samsung Creates $300M Fund to Innovate Automotive Tech

Apple’s Innovative Chips Ready to Lead in AR, AI, Wearables

The new iPhone X offers several new features, but none of them more innovative than the neural engine that is part of Apple’s new A11 Bionic SoC processor. Artificial neural networks, which excel at processing images and speech, are behind the phone’s ability to recognize the user’s face to unlock it, transfer facial expressions onto Animoji (animated emoji), and other, as-of-yet unspecified features. As Apple moves into augmented reality and image recognition, the neural engine will likely be central to these endeavors. Continue reading Apple’s Innovative Chips Ready to Lead in AR, AI, Wearables

Toshiba Is Accepting Bids for its Profitable Memory-Chip Unit

Toshiba announced that it is selling its memory-chip business, a major supplier to some of the world’s top CE manufacturers, and expects to reach an agreement by the end of the month. Leading the race is a group including private-equity firm Bain Capital and tech companies such as Apple, Dell, Seagate, SK Hynix and Innovation Network Corp. of Japan. Insiders indicate the bid values Toshiba’s chip business at $19 billion. Apple and Dell aim to keep the Toshiba unit as a viable supplier, while hoping it remains competitive with flash memory-chip leader Samsung. Continue reading Toshiba Is Accepting Bids for its Profitable Memory-Chip Unit

Google Debuts Software Tools for AR App, Web Developers

Google just released ARCore, software to enable developers to more easily create augmented reality apps. The company took its first step into augmented reality in 2014, when it introduced Tango, its 3D mapping system. But it had a hard time getting Android phone makers to make the necessary hardware upgrades to foster widespread AR adoption. Google now hopes that, rather than expensive hardware upgrades, developers will be more enticed by its software solution for allowing apps and sites to track physical objects and overlay them with virtual images. Continue reading Google Debuts Software Tools for AR App, Web Developers

20th Century Fox, Panasonic, Samsung Partner on HDR10+

High dynamic range (HDR) is gaining steam in movies and television even as it divides into different versions, each of which has its supporters. Dolby Vision has attracted Sony and TCL, while Samsung, with its HDR10+ open standard, gathered Amazon Video as a streaming partner. Now, partnered with 20th Century Fox and Panasonic, Samsung plans to begin licensing HDR10+ in January of this coming year. The three companies hope that television, Blu-ray and set-top box manufacturers will adopt the HDR10+ format. Continue reading 20th Century Fox, Panasonic, Samsung Partner on HDR10+

Addressing the Myths That Impact Creation of VR Standards

In VentureBeat, The Khronos Group president Neil Trevett and Sensics CEO Yuval Boger list four myths that are standing in the way of VR standards and more rapid market growth — “Myth 1: It’s too early for standards,” “Myth 2: Standards stifle innovation,” “Myth 3: Consumers won’t be impacted” and “Myth 4: There are too many cooks developing standards.” Trevett and Boger counter all four and note that The Khronos Group and IEEE are leading efforts to develop VR standards. The ETC’s VR/AR Initiative program lead, Phil Lelyveld, says that despite outreach efforts to the creative community by those organizations, active contributors are predominantly hardware and tool developers and technologists. Continue reading Addressing the Myths That Impact Creation of VR Standards

Amazon Promotes Alexa With SDK, Revenue for Developers

Amazon is going full bore promoting its virtual assistant Alexa. In an effort to make it available on more devices, the company has debuted the Alexa Voice Service Device SDK toolset, which lets developers integrate a fully functional version to their devices, offering speech recognition and all the other Alexa capabilities such as notifications, weather reports, streaming media and thousands of voice apps. Amazon is providing additional incentive to developers by paying those whose voice apps demonstrate customer engagement. Continue reading Amazon Promotes Alexa With SDK, Revenue for Developers

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

Andy Rubin’s Essential Raises $300M from Amazon, Tencent

Essential Products, the smartphone company founded by Andy Rubin, the creator of Google’s Android mobile software, has amassed $300 million from several investors, including China’s Tencent Holdings and Amazon’s Alexa Fund. The company, which plans to compete with Apple and Samsung in the smartphone market, also stated that Best Buy and Amazon will be its first partners for distributing the new $699 titanium-encased Essential phone. What Essential did not reveal was the date the phone will launch. Continue reading Andy Rubin’s Essential Raises $300M from Amazon, Tencent

Intel Is Topped by Samsung After 25-Year Lead in Chip Sales

Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor unit posted Q2 sales of $15.7 billion and operating profit of $7.1 billion, surpassing Intel’s Q2 earnings of $14.8 billion and operating profit of $3.8 billion. This marks the first time in nearly 25 years that Intel has lost its No. 1 position in the chip-making market. Up until this quarter, Santa Clara, CA-based Intel has enjoyed a comfortable lead over Samsung’s chip unit, which got its start with a focus on mobile devices. The semiconductor industry is currently valued at $365 billion. Continue reading Intel Is Topped by Samsung After 25-Year Lead in Chip Sales

Amazon Adds TGI Fridays to Its New Payment App Feature

Amazon added restaurant chain TGI Fridays to Amazon Pay Places, the tech giant’s new payments feature for its mobile app that allows people to make purchases in stores and restaurants. Amazon Pay Places is available for pick-up orders at a limited number of TGI Fridays restaurants on the East Coast, but will expand to additional locations. Amazon isn’t alone in pursuing digital payment features; Apple, PayPal, Samsung and others are also focused on such services for online and in-store purchases. Continue reading Amazon Adds TGI Fridays to Its New Payment App Feature

Samsung Wants Bixby Assistant to Control Multiple Devices

Samsung’s digital voice assistant Bixby just arrived on millions of the company’s Galaxy S8 phones. According to Samsung head of mobile software R&D Injong Rhee, the inspiration for Bixby was super-hero Tony Stark (“Iron Man”), who only needs to voice orders to activate all kinds of systems. Similar to Stark, Samsung wants to use Bixby to activate all kinds of devices, from dishwashers to TVs. While Bixby cannot control all apps yet and, like other digital assistants has some limitations, early reviews suggest it excels at function-based commands. Continue reading Samsung Wants Bixby Assistant to Control Multiple Devices

Google Looks to Personalize Music with New Release Radio

Google just announced that New Release Radio is now opened up to all users. The new feature uses machine learning to analyze the user’s taste in music and then suggests new music based on those tastes. The feature will introduce both albums and singles that have debuted in the last two weeks; Google promotes it as “a really quick way to check out all-new music that’s tailored just for you.” Samsung Galaxy S8 users have had early access to New Release Radio since June, as a result of Google’s global partnership with the electronics giant. Continue reading Google Looks to Personalize Music with New Release Radio

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