Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Alphabet’s revenue is booming, but its costs are also increasing, the result of its efforts to diversify beyond online advertising. Thus, although Internet search showed very strong returns, Alphabet shares fell in after-hours trading due to its shrinking margins and slower revenue growth. In addition to its Google search engine, Alphabet comprises YouTube and Waymo self-driving car divisions. The parent company’s increased spending on those two divisions in Q4 pushed margins down to 21 percent from 24 percent a year earlier. Continue reading Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Facebook Solicited Teens to Download Its Surveillance Tool

An investigation reveals that Facebook has been secretly paying users ages 13 to 35 since 2016 to install an iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app that gives the company access to all of their smartphone and Internet activity. The Research app is similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and may also be a violation of Apple policy. Legislators on both sides of the aisle were infuriated at the news, decrying the surveillance technology. Facebook’s earlier Onavo app was also criticized as spyware.

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WorkLink From AWS Enables Secure Mobile Intranet Access

Amazon’s AWS cloud computing unit has announced its new WorkLink service that promises to provide workers with simple and secure mobile access to all of their companies’ intranet sites and web apps. Since most companies typically use virtual private networks or mobile device management software for such remote access, AWS wants to replace the often expensive and complex use of these approaches with simple one-click access that employees should find similar to basic Internet browsing on their various devices. Continue reading WorkLink From AWS Enables Secure Mobile Intranet Access

Facebook Introduces Open-Source Image Processing Library

Facebook unveiled Spectrum, an open-source image processing library to help improve the quality and reliability of images uploaded through its own apps. Spectrum, which Facebook first showed publicly and launched in beta in November, is now on GitHub, available to the developer community. As higher quality cameras on smartphones have become a key selling point, consumers are dealing with larger image files, which can be a stumbling block since they eat up more device memory and more network bandwidth. Continue reading Facebook Introduces Open-Source Image Processing Library

Voice Tech Adoption Reaches Beyond Smart Homes to Autos

Together, Amazon and Google claim about 85 percent of the smart speakers currently installed in U.S. households. In the wake of a successful holiday shopping season, the number of smart speakers in the U.S. has climbed to around 119 million. And while Amazon and Google battled for dominance at CES with voice assistant support featured in a growing array of devices and services, a new survey from Voicebot.ai suggests that voice assistants may be more habit-forming in vehicles than via smartphones. The voice tech publication found that 77 million adults use such assistants in their vehicles at least monthly, and companies are taking notice. Continue reading Voice Tech Adoption Reaches Beyond Smart Homes to Autos

French Firm Shows a Robot Stylus That Demos Screen Apps

Key Infuser is demonstrating a cellphone-sized robot stylus called KiOne that can demo touch displays and the apps behind them. The full system includes a robotic arm, a video display screen, and a base containing the hardware and code to drive the demo. The entire unit is the size of a toaster oven and fits comfortably on a counter top. Retailers can use it to continuously demonstrate new products with touchscreen UIs, freeing up staff time for higher value customer service activities. Companies could use the technology to provide on-demand training of touchscreen-based applications to visual learners. Continue reading French Firm Shows a Robot Stylus That Demos Screen Apps

The Future of Television is Mobile Says Viacom CEO at CES

“Mobile distribution really is the catalyst that will turn this whole decline of television argument on its head,” said Viacom CEO Bob Bakish in his opening keynote conversation at the Variety Entertainment Summit at CES. The daylong media and advertising-oriented gathering drew capacity audiences to sessions focused on disruption and opportunities in a dynamic and vastly different media landscape. Bakish knows that 5G will open new distribution channels and autonomous cars will remove “the last vestige of video-free environment.” Continue reading The Future of Television is Mobile Says Viacom CEO at CES

CES Panel: Looking at 5G Use Cases and the Digital Divide

The recurring theme at CES 2019 is the promise of 5G wireless technology, as carriers such as Verizon begin their first moves into the space. Moderated by CTA’s Cindy Stevens, a group of technologists discussed some of the opportunities inherent in 5G networks for “hyper connectivity.” Microsoft principal group manager Pete Bernard noted that his company does not make 5G chips. “But we are an intelligent edge/cloud company,” he said. “5G is a catalyst technology that will enable our clients to move to the cloud more quickly.” Continue reading CES Panel: Looking at 5G Use Cases and the Digital Divide

CES: The Era of Screens in Contact Lenses May Be Upon Us

Beneficial Vision smart contact lenses from Care Harmony Corp. use a variety of technologies distributed among wearable devices to deliver monochromatic text and video images through contact lenses. The smart lenses contain an outer ring of rechargeable batteries and lasers that use wave-guide technology to project an image into the central area of the contact lens. In addition to delivering audio, wireless earbuds track head position and send that information to the contacts, so the projected image can appear to be a stable overlay in a fixed position in the real world when you move your head. Continue reading CES: The Era of Screens in Contact Lenses May Be Upon Us

CES Unveiled: A Look at This Year’s Innovation Award Winners

On Sunday, CES “unveiled” its Innovation Award winners for the year, in a room also crowded with numerous startups eager to showcase their technologies. This year was, again, a plethora of self-care, health-oriented products as well as many related to smart homes and home security. The 31 companies/products honored this year for “best of innovation” fell into the categories of digital imaging/photography, smart home, smart energy, wearable technologies, computer hardware, virtual reality and video displays among others. Continue reading CES Unveiled: A Look at This Year’s Innovation Award Winners

Apple Among Those Impacted by Slowing Chinese Economy

Apple stock slumped 10 percent last Thursday to $142.19, the company’s biggest single-day percentage drop in almost six years, erasing $74.65 billion from its market value. That came after Apple chief executive Tim Cook warned that China’s economic slump is responsible for slowed-down iPhone sales in the past quarter. China’s wobbling consumer confidence is impacting the entire world economy, however, and Apple has problems beyond China. In India, it’s reaping a mere 1 percent of overall smartphone sales. Continue reading Apple Among Those Impacted by Slowing Chinese Economy

Sony Increases 3D Chip Supply to Meet Demand for Phones

After receiving interest from Apple and other customers, Sony plans to rev up production of its next-generation 3D sensors, which power front- and rear-facing 3D cameras. Sony sensor division head Satoshi Yoshihara reported that the company accelerated production of the 3D chips in late summer to meet the demand for several smartphones slated to debut in 2019. Although he did not provide production targets, he said Sony’s 3D business is already profitable and will impact earnings for the fiscal year beginning in April. Continue reading Sony Increases 3D Chip Supply to Meet Demand for Phones

CES 2019: 5G to Make Debut as a Multi-Faceted Technology

At CES 2019 next week, 5G is expected to make a strong showing, not simply as a means to improve mobile phones, but as a game changer for everything from robots and drones to video games, sports and shopping. Although Samsung has already shown prototype 5G phones for Verizon and AT&T, ETC consultant George Gerba noted that, “the need to upgrade phones will not occur till 2020 when most metropolitan areas should be closing in on the first wave of 5G.” “This is one of those evolutions that will happen in waves and with some bumps,” he said. Continue reading CES 2019: 5G to Make Debut as a Multi-Faceted Technology

CES 2019: Yet Another Transformation Waiting in the Wings?

The ETC@USC team is heading to Las Vegas this weekend to deliver daily news and analysis from CTA’s annual CES trade show. Yesterday, ETC’s Don Levy pointed out that “the transformative potential of 5G … will likely emerge as the hot underlying topic of CES” and ETCentric will be covering the “show with particular interest in how developments can impact or disrupt media, entertainment and technology companies.” We’ve been watching for signs of a next transformational change that’s been growing in the background since Ericsson started testing 5G in 2015. At CES, we’ll be looking for supplementary trends to see how close we are to a sea change in distribution and personalization. Continue reading CES 2019: Yet Another Transformation Waiting in the Wings?

Apple Job Postings Suggest Development of Its Own Modems

Several new Apple job listings give the strong impression that the Silicon Valley company is getting ready to make its own modem, in direct competition with Qualcomm. The posted job listings are for engineers that can design and develop a layer 1 cellular PHY chip, which implies physical networking hardware. Two other job posts are for cellular modem systems architects, one for Santa Clara and the second for San Diego, where Qualcomm is headquartered. Apple also posted a job opening in San Diego for RF design engineers. Continue reading Apple Job Postings Suggest Development of Its Own Modems

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