Facebook Reportedly Building a TV Cam for Streaming Video

Just last week, Facebook announced its two new Portal video chat devices featuring 12-megapixel cameras with HD video and AI-powered software. New information suggests that the social giant is also readying a camera-equipped device codenamed “Ripley,” designed to work with your TV for video calling in addition to entertainment services including Facebook Watch. According to an insider with direct knowledge of the project, Ripley — which will use the same core tech as Portal — is likely to be announced by the spring of 2019. Continue reading Facebook Reportedly Building a TV Cam for Streaming Video

Gartner Labels AI a Megatrend, MIT Plans AI-Centric College

According to Gartner Research vice president Brian Burke, the democratization of AI is one of the five megatrends impacting emerging technologies. Although AI is currently in the “hype” stage of its evolution, to be followed by disillusionment, by 2020 it is expected to shape 80 percent of new technologies. Pursuant to that prediction, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) released plans for a college of artificial intelligence to be built with $1 billion in investment, of which two-thirds has already been raised. Continue reading Gartner Labels AI a Megatrend, MIT Plans AI-Centric College

Amazon Eyes Video With New Echo Show and Fire TV Recast

Amazon announced plans last week to introduce a range of new devices intended for the automotive, home security, and premium audio markets. The Seattle-based tech giant also unveiled updated versions of its Echo Plus, Dot and Show smart speakers as well as other Alexa-powered devices including a wall clock and microwave oven. In addition to more than a dozen new voice-powered products, the company revealed the Fire TV Recast that enables consumers to view and record live television via a connected digital antenna. The content can be streamed inside and outside the user’s home. Continue reading Amazon Eyes Video With New Echo Show and Fire TV Recast

Survey Finds That Smart Speakers Are Gaining in Popularity

A new Adobe Analytics survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers has found that voice assistants and smart speakers are becoming increasingly popular. Adobe predicts that following the next holiday season, almost half of U.S. consumers will own a smart speaker. The market has grown about 15 percent in less than one year; more than 32 percent of consumers now own a smart speaker. People are most commonly using such tech to play music, check weather forecasts, set alarms/reminders as well as obtain directions, check sports scores and traffic, and ask fun questions. Continue reading Survey Finds That Smart Speakers Are Gaining in Popularity

Samsung Tackles Home Networking With SmartThings Router

Samsung has launched its SmartThings Wifi router to provide consumers with fast, secure home networking and a reliable smart home hub. Currently available in the U.S. for $120 per single unit or $280 for a 3-pack, the new router leverages artificial intelligence for Wi-Fi management and faster speeds — in addition to mesh networking for optimized Wi-Fi coverage. According to Samsung, a single unit covers up to 1,500 square feet; deploying multiple units helps ensure strong signals throughout the home while minimizing dead zones. Continue reading Samsung Tackles Home Networking With SmartThings Router

Prime Day Breaks Records, Boosts Sales for Large Retailers

Amazon Prime Day — extended to a 36-hour period this time around — broke a number of online shopping records. According to Amazon, this week’s sale was the biggest shopping event in the company’s history, defeating Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and last year’s 30-hour Prime Day. While Amazon does not release specific sales figures, it noted that Prime members around the globe purchased more than 100 million products, while small and medium-sized businesses exceeded $1 billion in sales. In addition, Adobe Analytics reported that large retailers (those with more than a billion dollars in yearly revenue) experienced a 54 percent jump in sales as compared with an average Tuesday. Continue reading Prime Day Breaks Records, Boosts Sales for Large Retailers

Samsung’s Next Frame TV Improves Smart Controls, HDR

Samsung announced that its next-gen Frame TV — which doubles as a rotating art display — features an updated artwork UI, expanded art library and additional customization features. The 4K UHD screen has been upgraded from HDR Pro to HDR10+ — and now comes with Bixby so that users can control the TV and compatible home devices by voice. The unit also touts new smart capabilities that make it easier to transfer Wi-Fi and Samsung account info from smartphones to the TV set via Bluetooth Low Energy. The new 55-inch Frame TV is available for $1,999, while the 65-inch version runs for $2,799. Continue reading Samsung’s Next Frame TV Improves Smart Controls, HDR

Team Builds Practical Quantum Random Number Generator

Security solutions provider Quantum Base and England’s Lancaster University have developed a quantum random number generator that could become a major step in combatting cyberattacks. The generator can easily be embedded in electronic devices to provide quantum security for authentication. “We have created a small, low power device that produces pure random numbers,” explains Quantum Base CEO Phillip Speed. “It can be incorporated into any electronic product with little or no incremental cost once volume production is achieved.” Continue reading Team Builds Practical Quantum Random Number Generator

Smart Speakers Could Become Centers of Retail Ecosystems

Consumers buying smart home and other Internet of Things devices don’t often understand the wider implications of their purchases. The tech companies building these devices are creating ecosystems that could, among other things, determine the future of retail. For example, buying a smart speaker to play music will likely become the consumer’s “access point” for a range of services, including shopping options. Consumers opting into one company’s products may be unknowingly opting out of other companies’ offerings. Continue reading Smart Speakers Could Become Centers of Retail Ecosystems

Essential Kills Next Smarthone and Is Reportedly Up for Sale

Android creator Andy Rubin’s startup, Essential Products, born out of his incubator Playground Global, may be on the sales block. The startup, which raised about $300 million from Amazon, Tencent Holdings, Redpoint Ventures and Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn), ceased development of a new smartphone, say sources, and hired Credit Suisse Group to advise on its sale. Reportedly, Essence has already piqued the interest of one potential buyer. The original Essential smartphone, manufactured by Foxconn, debuted last August. Continue reading Essential Kills Next Smarthone and Is Reportedly Up for Sale

Samsung Zeroes In on AI to Meet 2020 Goal for Smart Devices

Samsung has committed to integrating artificial intelligence and Internet connectivity into all its products by 2020, even as Google and Amazon beat the South Korean company to market with their AI-powered smart speakers. Samsung’s goal is to have every device from televisions to refrigerators synch with each other and drive demand for its smartphones. Samsung eventually plans to centralize these devices with its SmartThings app, acquired in 2014. It also will include its own virtual assistant Bixby, which debuted last year on its flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone. Continue reading Samsung Zeroes In on AI to Meet 2020 Goal for Smart Devices

Google and Amazon Remain Leaders in Smart Speaker Market

Smart speakers continue their popularity, with nine million units shipped in Q1 2018, representing a 210 percent jump over Q1 2017, according to Canalys. In a first, global shipments of Google Home speakers surpassed those of Amazon’s popular Echo speakers. “Google shipped 3.2 million Home and Home Mini devices, versus 2.5 million Echo devices shipped by Amazon,” reports VentureBeat. “Google held an estimated 36.2 percent share for the quarter over Amazon’s 27.7 percent — a profound reversal from a year earlier, when Amazon had 79.6 percent of shipments to Google’s 19.3 percent.” Continue reading Google and Amazon Remain Leaders in Smart Speaker Market

TiVo DVRs Add Support for Amazon’s Virtual Assistant Alexa

TiVo is introducing voice control to its DVRs with support for Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa. Consumers who have TiVo devices including the Premiere, Roamio and Bolt boxes will be able to interact with Alexa for basic remote control commands such as skipping commercials with SkipMode, changing channels, and launching video apps like Netflix. TiVo joins companies including DirecTV, Dish and Verizon in adding hands-free, voice control features. At CES in January, TiVo announced its plans to add support for Alexa and Google Assistant. Continue reading TiVo DVRs Add Support for Amazon’s Virtual Assistant Alexa

Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

Google revealed that its AI-powered Google Assistant is now connected to more than 5,000 smart devices in the home, up from 1,500 such devices in January. Among the devices now controlled by Google Assistant are air conditioners, cameras, security systems, thermostats, vacuum cleaners and washing machines. Google faces stiff competition in the smart home arena, most notably from Amazon Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit and Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Samsung’s SmartThings and Bixby. Now the rivals must convince consumers to buy the devices. Continue reading Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

Consumers Are Using Phones to Control Smart Home Devices

Smartphones could be on their way toward becoming the new remote, as a recent GfK survey of 1,000 Internet users 18 and older found that 89 percent use their phones to control connected home products and services (an increase of 19 percent since 2015). The same respondents indicated that they are now using their phones more than other devices in the home: 83 percent use their smartphones at home, 75 percent use their laptops, 54 percent use PCs, and 34 percent use game consoles. The figures represent increases across all categories when compared to 2015. Continue reading Consumers Are Using Phones to Control Smart Home Devices

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