December Previews to Launch ETC’s Coverage of CES 2017

Extensive, in-depth coverage of CES 2017 by ETC@USC begins the week of December 5th with a series of preview stories exploring the top CE trends and technologies — and their significance to the entertainment industry. CES, the global gathering place for innovation and tech, is presented by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and runs January 5-8 in Las Vegas. CES 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the conference. Since the first Consumer Electronics Show in 1967, more than 700,000 products have debuted in what CTA calls “the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies.” Continue reading December Previews to Launch ETC’s Coverage of CES 2017

Google Expands into Retail in Canada with Shops in Best Buy

After introducing its Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, Chromecast Ultra and Daydream View VR headset, Google launched retail venues, with a pop-up Experience Store in New York City and stores within select Best Buy locations in Canada. At the Canadian stores, Google will showcase hardware, offer public activities and create a sense of community, similar to Apple stores. In charge is director of retail marketing Janell Fischer, who worked in Apple’s retail division before joining Google three years ago. Continue reading Google Expands into Retail in Canada with Shops in Best Buy

Facebook Acquires FacioMetrics for Human Emotion Detection

Facebook has acquired FacioMetrics, a startup spun off from Carnegie Mellon University. FacioMetrics’ IntraFace can detect seven different emotions on peoples’ faces. Since the purchase, FacioMetrics has been removed from the app stores. The acquisition is likely fueling Facebook’s goal to apply its artificial intelligence research to create “gesture-based controls, recognize facial expressions and perform related actions.” Facebook has said it will use FacioMetrics to enhance its augmented reality face masks. Continue reading Facebook Acquires FacioMetrics for Human Emotion Detection

Sony Pictures, Nokia Partner to Create, Distribute VR Content

Sony Pictures and Nokia have partnered to produce and distribute VR content. In addition to using Nokia’s OZO VR camera to produce videos, Sony will use the OZO’s Live VR broadcast feature to live stream 360-degree video of Sony Pictures events for fans. Sony will also add Nokia’s SDK to its Privilege Plus app, which is only available on Sony mobile phones. Nokia debuted the OZO a little over a year ago for about $60,000; the cost goes up with additional gear required to produce VR films. Continue reading Sony Pictures, Nokia Partner to Create, Distribute VR Content

CTA Predicts Black Friday Will Be a ‘Record Breaker for Tech’

Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association outlined the CTA’s projections for retail holiday sales. Anticipating a 3.1 percent increase over 2015 in consumer holiday spending on tech, top product categories include televisions, laptops and smartphones. Emerging categories such as wearables, drones and VR headsets are also projected to have a strong showing this season. DuBravac noted the top five tech trends to watch for at January’s CES: vocal computing, intelligent systems connecting diverse objects, self-driving cars and driver-assist technologies, artificial intelligence, and VR and AR entertainment. Continue reading CTA Predicts Black Friday Will Be a ‘Record Breaker for Tech’

Fox Releases Immersive Project: ‘The Martian VR Experience’

At CES in January, Fox Innovation Lab showed its first cut of “The Martian VR Experience.” Now, 11 months later, 20th Century Fox’s Lab has just released the finished product, directed by Robert Stromberg and executive produced by Ridley Scott, for use with HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. “The Martian VR Experience,” which is available to consumers for $19, takes viewers into the world of the 2015 Fox movie “The Martian,” directed by Scott, where astronaut Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) was abandoned on Mars. Continue reading Fox Releases Immersive Project: ‘The Martian VR Experience’

CBS Brings 360-Degree Video to Android TV, Amazon Fire TV

CBS is launching apps for Android TV and Amazon Fire TV that will add 360-degree videos to CBSN’s news coverage. The apps will debut with a show documenting production of a “60 Minutes” episode on searching for gorillas in Africa. The apps, which will also feature a new playlist for 360-degree videos, will offer curated video playlists, a personalized playlist of favorite videos and features for finding related videos. Viewers will be able to use their remote control to navigate the videos. Continue reading CBS Brings 360-Degree Video to Android TV, Amazon Fire TV

HTC Vive Now Wireless with Add-On Upgrade From TPCAST

HTC Vive is now wireless, with an add-on tetherless upgrade from TPCAST, a startup with HTC’s VR accelerator, Vive X. The wireless kit was for sale on Vive’s Chinese website, and quickly sold out; Vive did not reveal how many units were for sale. Priority was given to potential buyers with a valid Vive serial number. Priced at 1,499 RMB (~$220) plus shipping, the wireless add-on will begin to ship in the first quarter of 2017 to those who pre-ordered. Other companies are said to be working on wireless upgrades to Vive. Continue reading HTC Vive Now Wireless with Add-On Upgrade From TPCAST

Apple Considers AR Tech for Wireless Digital Glasses Project

Insiders report that Apple is working on a pair of wireless digital glasses that would connect to iPhones and possibly use augmented reality. “While still in an exploration phase,” reports Bloomberg, “Apple has talked about its glasses project with potential suppliers” and “the company has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing.” According to those familiar with the concept, Apple isn’t ready for mass production and, if it moves forward with the eyewear, we shouldn’t expect to see a product until 2018. Chief exec Tim Cook, under pressure to make up for waning iPhone sales, has expressed interest in AR following the success of “Pokémon Go.” Continue reading Apple Considers AR Tech for Wireless Digital Glasses Project

ETC’s AR Salon: Industry Experts Discuss Augmented Reality

On November 11, at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, ETC’s AR Salon gathered a group of industry experts to discuss their experiences in augmented reality. ETC executive director/chief executive Ken Williams opened the event to welcome attendees, many of whom are already engaged in producing AR projects. Phil Lelyveld, ETC’s VR/AR program lead, spelled out the salon’s organization, which consisted of 10-minute presentations on the business of AR and the art and technology of AR, followed by discussion workgroups. Continue reading ETC’s AR Salon: Industry Experts Discuss Augmented Reality

Google Releases Daydream View Headset to Positive Reviews

Google’s first VR headset, the $79 Daydream View, started shipping, the first step in the company’s goal to make Android the dominant VR operating system. Daydream faces some stiff competition, however, including Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR for PC and mobile devices, and Microsoft’s holographic version of Windows. So far, reviewers are giving Daydream a thumbs-up, as simple to use, inexpensive and light, and one reviewer calls the content on YouTube VR the new headset’s “killer app.” Continue reading Google Releases Daydream View Headset to Positive Reviews

Samsung Bets on Automotive with $8 Billion Harman Purchase

As Apple reportedly scales back its automotive plans, South Korean smartphone competitor Samsung is pushing into the emerging market with its $8 billion acquisition of luxury audio and connected car leader Harman. Auto connectivity has been a “strategic priority” for Samsung, and the transaction will provide the company with infotainment, telematics, security and safety solutions by Harman that are currently found in 30 million vehicles. Samsung also recently expressed interest in paying more than $3 billion for Fiat Chrysler’s Magneti Marelli autoparts business. Continue reading Samsung Bets on Automotive with $8 Billion Harman Purchase

Arcades Introduce Virtual Reality Entertainment to Consumers

A visitor to New York City’s Westfield World Trade Center Mall will have the opportunity to view a variety of virtual reality films for free. The Mall, in partnership with Tribeca Enterprises, launched a free pop-up virtual reality arcade, offering eight viewing stations with several short immersive films. Virtual reality has failed to catch on in numerous iterations over the last 60 years, and some experts now say that the virtual reality arcade, gaining in popularity in different parts of the world, may save today’s VR from that same fate. Continue reading Arcades Introduce Virtual Reality Entertainment to Consumers

Adobe Project VoCo Audio Editor Offers Photoshop-Like Tools

Adobe Research and Princeton University are collaborating on software that acts like Photoshop for audio, including the ability to add words not found in the original audio file. Adobe developer Zeyu Jin, who spoke at the Adobe MAX conference, described the would-be product, codenamed Project VoCo, as a “sneak peak.” Project VoCo is intended to be an audio editing application, with more typical speech editing and noise cancellation features, but the Photoshop-like tool also raises potential ethical issues regarding the use of doctored audio clips.

Continue reading Adobe Project VoCo Audio Editor Offers Photoshop-Like Tools

Adobe Introduces Extensive Updates for Creative Cloud Apps

Among Adobe’s updates to Creative Cloud applications is the debut of Project Felix, a 2D/3D compositing tool that allows the user to easily combine 2D and 3D objects and create a photorealistic scene. Photoshop CC now offers a universal search tool for searching Adobe Stock, and other workflow-related features. After Effects has a new 3D rendering engine that’s twenty times faster than before, and Premiere now offers better support for VR content and Character Animator. Adobe also previewed the Project Nimbus photo editor. Continue reading Adobe Introduces Extensive Updates for Creative Cloud Apps

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