Facebook Seeks to Stop Russian Disinformation Campaigns

Facebook deleted nearly 500 pages and accounts after discovering two disinformation campaigns linked to Russia. Employees of Sputnik, a Russian government-controlled agency, were linked to many of the pages that use innocuous independent news pages on sports, travel and weather to mask their disinformation. The pages, which were targeted largely at users in Europe and Central Asia, make clear that Russian-government linked groups continue their efforts to use Facebook as a means of spreading misinformation. Continue reading Facebook Seeks to Stop Russian Disinformation Campaigns

DTR and Academics Tackle Faster, Scalable Cryptocurrency

A group of professors from universities including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley are at work on the Unit-e, a “globally scalable” cryptocurrency that can achieve blazing speeds and retain Bitcoin’s vaunted decentralization. Unit-e will be the first project of the non-profit Distributed Technologies Research (DTR), an academic-formed foundation supported by hedge fund Pantera Capital Management. They hope to design a coin that will process transactions faster than Visa. Continue reading DTR and Academics Tackle Faster, Scalable Cryptocurrency

Tablo to Debut Automatic Commercial Skipping in Open Beta

At CES 2019, Tablo, a Canadian OTA receiver manufacturer, announced plans to unveil its Automatic Commercial Skip feature, which makes recorded TV ads skip automatically on over-the-air broadcasts. An open beta for Tablo owners who subscribe to its $5 per month guide will begin in March. The company says the technology is “a cloud-based hybrid of digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms and machine learning.” With it, Tablo apps on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku will skip ads without human intervention. Continue reading Tablo to Debut Automatic Commercial Skipping in Open Beta

Dreamscape Immersive to Expand Location-Based VR in 2019

Dreamscape Immersive focuses on creating virtual reality experiences as location-based entertainment in malls and other venues. From the entrance, a “departure lounge” that immerses visitors in backstories and props, titles such as “Alien Zoo” and “Lavan’s Magic Projector: The Lost Pearl” are intended to feel like journeys. Dreamscape chief executive Bruce Vaughn, who was former chief creative officer of Walt Disney Imagineering said it’s about reframing how audiences view virtual reality. Continue reading Dreamscape Immersive to Expand Location-Based VR in 2019

Alienware’s Powerful Gaming Laptop Allows Swappable Parts

At CES 2019, Alienware debuted its Area-51m 17-inch gaming laptop, touting its power and swappable hardware. Co-founder Frank Azor said the Area-51m counters the current trend of less powerful, more portable gaming laptops with built-in obsolescence. Instead, the Area-51m is basically a desktop PC with built-in battery, screen and keyboard and swappable hard drive, RAM, battery, CPU and GPU. Alienware aids the user in taking it apart with labeled guides in the laptop framework and easily removable screws. Continue reading Alienware’s Powerful Gaming Laptop Allows Swappable Parts

Netflix Raises Subscription Prices to Fund Its Original Content

Netflix is raising its prices again, increasing the cost of its most popular plan to $13 per month, from $11, an 18 percent bump. The basic plan rose from $8 to $9 per month, a 13 percent increase. Netflix, which last raised prices in 2017, did so to offset its massive spending on original content. It is also a way to compete with rivals in streaming video from Amazon to Hulu as well as newcomers including AT&T’s WarnerMedia, Disney and Comcast’s NBCUniversal. In response to the news, Netflix shares rose 6.5 percent to $354.64. Continue reading Netflix Raises Subscription Prices to Fund Its Original Content

U.S. Home Entertainment Spending Peaks at $23.3B in 2018

According to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, U.S. consumer spending on home entertainment during 2018 reached an estimated $23.3 billion, a new record. During CES, DEG revealed that subscription streaming and “transactional video-on-demand” (TVOD) boosted the amount spent, which was up 11.5 percent from 2017. DEG noted that the numbers are still preliminary and that final numbers will be revealed in early February. The biggest growth came from subscription streaming mainly via Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. Continue reading U.S. Home Entertainment Spending Peaks at $23.3B in 2018

Apple Grows Its Services by Partnering with Samsung, Others

Although Apple doesn’t have an official presence at CES, it still made news there, with companies announcing partnerships for iTunes, AirPlay 2 and HomeKit. The Silicon Valley firm is rumored to be rolling out a streaming video service in early 2019, with content from Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, M. Night Shyamalan and Steven Spielberg. At CES 2019, Apple’s integration with third party platforms included TVs from Samsung, LG, Vizio and Sony. The move into content and services comes as Apple contends with lower iPhone sales. Continue reading Apple Grows Its Services by Partnering with Samsung, Others

Israeli Firm Debuts One-Camera Vehicle Surveillance System

At CES 2019, Tel Aviv-based Guardian Optical Technologies debuted Optical Cabin Control (OCC) for the car’s interior. The single camera, a bit bigger than one featured in a mobile phone, is installed in the car’s ceiling and uses machine learning to keep an eye on the driver — and the kids in the backseat. More specifically, the camera watches to see if the driver takes his hands off the wheel, his eyes off the road or closes his eyes. To train the system, the company hired a diverse group of people, wearing different clothes and holding various accessories and pets. Continue reading Israeli Firm Debuts One-Camera Vehicle Surveillance System

NBCUniversal Readies Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Service

In 2020, Comcast’s NBCUniversal will launch a free, ad-supported streaming video service featuring the company’s own TV and film content as well as acquired programming and original content. The 52 million subscribers to Comcast Cable and Sky, the recently acquired European pay-TV unit, will receive the streaming service for free. According to sources, NBCUniversal will also offer the service for no additional charge to Charter Communications and Cox Communications, among other U.S. pay-TV companies with NBC channels. Continue reading NBCUniversal Readies Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Service

CES: Cable Operators Commit to 10G Cable Modem Speeds

At CES 2019, The Internet & Television Association (NCTA), CableLabs, and Cable Europe stated their intent to increase cable modems’ two-way speed from today’s 1-gigabit-per-second to 10+ gigabits. According to CableLabs, in 2018, 80 percent of homes had gigabit-per-second operations, up from 4 percent in 2016. U.S. cable operators whose networks pass 90 percent of homes and will enact the 10G initiative include Comcast, Charter, Cox, Mediacom, Midco, and international operators Rogers, Shaw, and Vodafone among others. Continue reading CES: Cable Operators Commit to 10G Cable Modem Speeds

CBS Films Moves to Streaming, CBS Preps for 8K Super Bowl

CBS Films is in the midst of a sea change. After releasing four scheduled films — “Five Feet Apart,” “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” “Pavarotti,” and “Lexi” in theaters, via its Lionsgate partnerships — it will be folded into CBS Entertainment Group in the next year. Its new mandate will be to find content for CBS’ streaming services, including, most likely, CBS All Access. Meanwhile, CBS is bringing more tech to live sports. The network is planning augmented reality graphics and some strategic 8K coverage and mobile streaming of the upcoming Super Bowl LIII. Continue reading CBS Films Moves to Streaming, CBS Preps for 8K Super Bowl

Verizon and Amazon Planning New Services to Stream Games

Streaming games are in the news, with Verizon in alpha tests of its Verizon Gaming, reportedly currently running on the Nvidia Shield set-top box and, eventually, Android smartphones. Verizon Gaming can be played using a paired Xbox One controller. Verizon has been recruiting players for its alpha test of the service, which offers 135 games. On the heels of Razer announcing it would integrate Amazon Alexa into its gaming platform, The Information revealed that Amazon is now developing its own streaming game service. Continue reading Verizon and Amazon Planning New Services to Stream Games

Chinese Startup Nreal Debuts Sleek, High-Quality AR Glasses

Chinese startup Nreal unveiled augmented reality glasses at CES 2019 featuring high-quality visuals and a sleek form factor that are slimmer than the Vuzix Blade AR glasses. The Nreal glasses weigh 85 grams (less than one-fifth of a pound) and offer 1080p projection through both lenses, with a 52-degree field of view. That makes the Nreal glasses closer to a Magic Leap headset or Microsoft HoloLens glasses — with an even better field of view. Nreal, similar to Magic Leap, also requires a processor pack connected to the glasses. Continue reading Chinese Startup Nreal Debuts Sleek, High-Quality AR Glasses

Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service

Amazon launched Freedive, a free, ad-supported streaming video channel on its Internet Movie Database (IMDb) site, featuring 130 movies and 29 TV shows licensed from CBS, NBCUniversal Television, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. Television and others. Movies include “Awakenings,” “A Few Good Men,” “Adaptation,” “Memento,” “True Romance,” “The Last Samurai” — and TV shows include “Fringe,” “The Bachelor,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Duck Dynasty,” “Quantum Leap,” “Born This Way,” “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Without a Trace.” Continue reading Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service

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