Super Bowl Halftime Show Offers Glimpse into Future of UAVs

During Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show, about 160 million viewers saw something never seen there before: an army of 300 synchronized drones that morphed from stars to a waving flag above the Houston skyline. That effect was courtesy of the Intel Shooting Star drone system, which also has more serious applications, in search-and-rescue and agriculture among other possibilities. The Shooting Star squad has also performed at Disney World and, last year, set a world record by simultaneously launching 500 UAVs into the sky above Sydney. Continue reading Super Bowl Halftime Show Offers Glimpse into Future of UAVs

New iPhone May Feature Scratch-Resistant Sapphire Screen

Apple has invested $700 million in producing synthetic sapphire, one of the hardest minerals on Earth, for the newest iPhone’s display screens. Sapphire is expensive to produce, but the material does not crack or scratch as easily as the glass currently used in iPhones. Apple and GT Advanced Technologies have opened a facility in Arizona to produce the new material. The facility’s ability to meet the demand will determine whether Apple rolls out an iPhone with a sapphire screen. Continue reading New iPhone May Feature Scratch-Resistant Sapphire Screen

Xbox One Updates Include Support for Multiple File Formats

At the Gamescom conference in Germany on Tuesday, Microsoft introduced several Xbox One console updates. First, a media player app is expected to allow users to load over 30 different file formats to the Xbox One via a device connected by USB. The company is also working with certain countries to provide facilitated and cheaper mainstream broadcast television content access. In addition, Microsoft plans to launch the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner in October. Continue reading Xbox One Updates Include Support for Multiple File Formats

BSkyB Makes Another Investment in Cinematic VR Developer

British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSkyB), the largest pay TV broadcaster in the UK and Ireland, is making an additional $400,000 investment in Jaunt, a Silicon Valley company developing 360-degree virtual reality cinema tech. The British broadcaster invested $350,000 in Jaunt last December, hoping to get one step ahead in the future of television. Jaunt’s technology, which uses Oculus Rift VR headsets, could be rolled out commercially as early as three years from now. Continue reading BSkyB Makes Another Investment in Cinematic VR Developer

UK Police Fight Piracy by Replacing Online Ads with Warnings

The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) of London has partnered with Project Sunblock, a content verification company, to help take down copyright infringing websites by replacing ads with warnings. The warning, which notifies site visitors that the site is under criminal investigation, serves as an alternative to when an advertisement from a Project Sunblock client is about to be placed on a piracy site. This solution helps keep respected brands off illegal sites. Continue reading UK Police Fight Piracy by Replacing Online Ads with Warnings

BBC Plans the First Live Ultra HD Broadcast Entirely Over IP

As several broadcasters get ready to test live Ultra HD broadcasts of the World Cup this week, the BBC has plans to go one step further. Journalist and ETCentric contributor Adrian Pennington tells us that the BBC has chosen next month’s Commonwealth Games for the world’s first live Ultra HD production that will use an entirely Internet-based infrastructure. While broadcasters have used IP to distribute content between the studio and remote locations, all-IP live production is not yet common. Continue reading BBC Plans the First Live Ultra HD Broadcast Entirely Over IP

BBC Schedules 4K Ultra HD Broadcast Trials for World Cup

Journalist and ETCentric contributor Adrian Pennington forwarded us news that the BBC, working with research partners Arqiva and BT, plans to broadcast the World Cup final and two other FIFA matches live in 4K as part of an ongoing trial with the Ultra HD format. This marks the first time that 4K will be distributed simultaneously over IP and digital terrestrial television technologies, a hybrid distribution model that the BBC has been developing for several years. Continue reading BBC Schedules 4K Ultra HD Broadcast Trials for World Cup

Microsoft Has Plans to Bring More Internet Access to Africa

Unlike Google, Microsoft is not trying to connect the entire Earth by using drones or balloons. Instead, the company hopes to utilize television white space, an unused part of the broadcast spectrum, to provide more Internet access to people living in Africa. After running cost-effective pilot programs in the U.S. and Kenya, Microsoft has found that the challenge for Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative is to persuade governments to lift regulations to allow them to utilize white space. Continue reading Microsoft Has Plans to Bring More Internet Access to Africa

ScreenHits to Launch Free Website for Showcasing TV Pilots

ScreenHits, an online marketplace for international buyers of film and television content, plans to launch a free service for consumers that will feature TV pilots that have not been picked up. The approach aims to introduce a new source of revenue for producers and studios. The Pilot Showcase service is scheduled to go live with 50 pilots on July 1. The pilots will be made available with advertising, and viewers can pre-order any shows that get greenlit as full series.   Continue reading ScreenHits to Launch Free Website for Showcasing TV Pilots

PayPal Can Now Be Used for Purchases in Google Play Store

Late last week, Google added new payment options to the Google Play Store, including the ability to use PayPal for the purchase of apps, music and movies. Paypal can now be used as a payment method for Google’s virtual storefront in 12 countries including the U.S. While this is the first time Google has offered the PayPal option (Microsoft’s Windows Phone Store has featured the option since its inception), the payment method can only be used for digital content, which excludes devices or accessories. Continue reading PayPal Can Now Be Used for Purchases in Google Play Store

Major Record Companies Invest $3M Each in Shazam Music App

Music-identification app Shazam has landed investments from the industry’s biggest record labels, including Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment. London-based Shazam’s most recent valuation was $500 million. Its value for the labels involves its potential as a marketing partner. Not only does the app enable users to identify music playing on the radio or TV, but it lets them share a song’s name via social media, download it from iTunes, or stream it via services such as Spotify. Continue reading Major Record Companies Invest $3M Each in Shazam Music App

Yahoo News Digest Now Available Globally on iOS and Android

Last week, Yahoo announced the launch of its News Digest app for Android devices. The company has also made the iOS version available for all users worldwide by adding Canadian and International editions (it was originally only available to iOS device users based in the United States or United Kingdom). Using algorithmic and human curation, Yahoo News Digest provides news round-ups twice a day, each story presented with a collection of articles, maps, Wikipedia entries, videos and photos. Continue reading Yahoo News Digest Now Available Globally on iOS and Android

Atlantic Develops VR Content for Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus

Adrian Pennington forwarded us news that British television producer Atlantic Productions is developing virtual reality narrative content, including documentary, CG and drama pilots for Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus. Atlantic Productions is the company behind noted nature documentaries such as “Galapagos,” “Kingdom of Plants” and the BAFTA-winning “Flying Monsters 3D.” Atlantic hopes to bundle some of its VR content with the Oculus Rift when it becomes commercially available. Continue reading Atlantic Develops VR Content for Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus

Netflix to Be Available to 500,000 Cable Subscribers Next Week

Netflix has reached an agreement with cable companies RCN, Grande Communications and Atlantic Broadband that will allow subscribers to basically access the streaming video service as if it were a cable channel starting next week. Netflix will be added as an app to set-top boxes to provide subscribers with the option of viewing the Netflix content they would otherwise access via computers and mobile devices. The offer is only available for customers of the cable companies who also subscribe to Netflix. Continue reading Netflix to Be Available to 500,000 Cable Subscribers Next Week

Ourscreen Helps Movie Fans Organize Their Own Screenings

Ourscreen is a service that allows groups of people to arrange private or public film screenings at their local cinema for movies that do not have a regular listing. It is similar to Groupon, in that a showing can be booked (by selecting a film, participating theater, and date/time), but is only confirmed once a certain number of people buy in. You can also search screenings that have been proposed by others and invite your friends. The larger the crowd for a given screening, the more affordable become the ticket prices. Continue reading Ourscreen Helps Movie Fans Organize Their Own Screenings

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