Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

As more companies ask employees to work from home due to the global spread of the coronavirus, Google, Microsoft and Zoom have responded by providing their workplace software for free. Microsoft’s Teams saw a 500 percent increase in meetings, calls and conference usage in China since the end of January, and demand is rising in the U.S. as work-from-home policies are instituted. Many Microsoft employees have been instructed to work from home and, last week, their Teams chat volume rose 50 percent, with video/audio meetings up 37 percent from a week earlier. Continue reading Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

Streaming Format GPEG Aims to Improve Gaming, Interactivity

Instant Interactive, a game-focused division of Primal Space Systems, is creating GPEG (Geometry Pump Engine Group), a “cousin of the MPEG format” and a different way of visualizing data. The parent company invested $8 million in the venture, aimed at game engines for more efficient streaming and interactivity for video entertainment. Primal Space Systems was co-founded by Barry Jenkins, a graphics expert; chief technology officer John Scott, formerly at Epic Games; and medical vision expert/chair Solomon Luo. Continue reading Streaming Format GPEG Aims to Improve Gaming, Interactivity

Manticore Games Launches Alpha Test for Development Tools

In 2016, Frederic Descamps and Jordan Maynard formed Manticore Games to build real-time experiences, adding a tool to quickly test out ideas and insert them into a game and enabling gamers to easily customize the experience with new items. Now they’ve turned those intuitive tools into a service, dubbed Core, currently in closed alpha testing. An open alpha test is expected “in the near future.” As a game creation tool and eventual marketplace, Core is intended to democratize game development. Continue reading Manticore Games Launches Alpha Test for Development Tools

EU’s New Recycling Law Will Cover Laptops, Phones, Tablets

The European Commission is set to extend its eco-design directive to cover laptops, phones and tablets, setting a standard for changeable and repairable parts, dubbed “the right to repair.” It is estimated that, in the European Union, less than 40 percent of electronic waste is recycled. The law currently covers energy efficiency standards for computers, dishwashers, TVs and washing machines. European commissioner for the environment Virginijus Sinkevičius said this Circular Economy Action Plan is a “new economic model.” Continue reading EU’s New Recycling Law Will Cover Laptops, Phones, Tablets

Magic Leap Is Considering a Sale, Stakeholder or Partnership

Magic Leap is exploring the possibility of a sale, according to sources. The Florida-based startup raised $2.6 billion to create augmented reality products, and now has hired an adviser to consider “strategic options” for moving forward. In addition to the potential of a sale, Magic Leap could sell a stake in the company or form a strategic partnership. The company is valued at $6 billion to $8 billion. Among the company’s largest investors are Alphabet’s Google and China’s Alibaba Group Holding. Continue reading Magic Leap Is Considering a Sale, Stakeholder or Partnership

House of Representatives Okays Extension of Surveillance Act

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 278 to 136 for the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020, to extend provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This legislation established rules for surveillance and information collection “between foreign powers or agents of foreign powers suspected of espionage or terrorism.” Although the House is led by Democrats, the vote was bipartisan, with 152 Democrats and 226 Republicans approving the act. The measure will now go to the Senate, on recess next week. Continue reading House of Representatives Okays Extension of Surveillance Act

Coronavirus: NAB 2020, Tech & Engineering Emmys Canceled

On March 11, NAB president/chief executive Gordon Smith announced that the NAB Show 2020 would be canceled. The NAB Show, which would have taken place April 18-22 in Las Vegas, gathers over 100,000 media, entertainment and technology professionals from all over the world. In a letter to the community, Smith wrote that the organization has been “carefully monitoring coronavirus developments both domestically and globally over the past few weeks.” Additionally, the NATAS Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards dinner was been moved to October. Continue reading Coronavirus: NAB 2020, Tech & Engineering Emmys Canceled

Microsoft Research Leads Team to Author AI Ethics Checklist

Microsoft Research, with almost 50 engineers from a dozen technology companies, created a checklist for AI ethics intended to spur conversation on the topic and raise some “good tension” within organizations. To that end, the list, rather than asking “yes” or “no” questions, instead suggests that teams “define fairness criteria.” Participants were not identified by name, but many are in AI-related fields like computer vision, natural language processing and predictive analytics. The group hopes to inspire future efforts. Continue reading Microsoft Research Leads Team to Author AI Ethics Checklist

Commission Finds U.S. Is Unprepared for Major Cyberattacks

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission released a report based on a months-long study that showed the U.S. government’s lack of ability to block cyber threats. The Commission lists 75 recommendations for major structural changes, including the creation of Congressional committees dedicated to cybersecurity and a White House-based national cybersecurity director to be confirmed by the Senate. The report is blunt in its assessment that the U.S. government’s current approach to cyberattacks is “fundamentally flawed.” Continue reading Commission Finds U.S. Is Unprepared for Major Cyberattacks

Twitter Settles With Activist Investor, Dorsey Keeps Position

Twitter and activist investor Elliott Management have come to an agreement to keep chief executive Jack Dorsey in his position, at least for now. Elliott Management, a $40 billion hedge fund that has a 4 percent stake in Twitter, sought to oust Dorsey from his position, claiming that, by splitting his attention between Twitter and Square, the chief executive let the former company lose its competitive edge and slip behind rivals. On February 21, Elliott nominated four candidates for Twitter’s board to add to the pressure. Continue reading Twitter Settles With Activist Investor, Dorsey Keeps Position

Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

Read It is a new Google Assistant feature that reads web pages out loud in 42 languages. Accessible through browsers and Android smartphones, it is launched by saying “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page.” Users can adjust the reading speed, and the feature highlights words as they are read out loud. Buttons can be used to skip forward or backward in the text or pause the reading. Google also added native support for sensors in Google Assistant, and a special device type for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Continue reading Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

Amazon Debuts Unit to Sell Its Cashierless Store Technology

On Monday, Amazon will introduce a new business unit, Just Walk Out, to sell the technology that makes its Amazon Go cashierless convenience stores possible, with a website launching on the same day. The company said it already has several signed deals, but would not be more specific. According to Loup Ventures, the market for retail stores without cashiers could grow to $50 billion. As Amazon vice president of physical retail/technology Dilip Kumar put it, “Do customers like standing in lines?” Continue reading Amazon Debuts Unit to Sell Its Cashierless Store Technology

Apple Alters App Guidelines, Okays Opt-In Push Notifications

Apple has revised its App Store review guidelines used to curate iOS/iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS App Stores, most notably, now allowing developers to serve ads via push notifications. In past guidelines, Apple specifically said that push notifications should not be used for “advertising, promotions or direct marketing purposes.” The revised guidelines also expand the definition of a spam app and state that legal entities of services in “highly regulated fields” should submit the app rather than individual developers. Continue reading Apple Alters App Guidelines, Okays Opt-In Push Notifications

Bipartisan Bill Would Further Regulate Online Content for Kids

Senators Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) introduced the Kids Internet Design and Safety (KIDS) Act, which would regulate how companies such as YouTube and TikTok handle what is accessible to children online, including advertising, app design and potentially harmful content. One of the main targets of the new bill are so-called unboxing videos, such as YouTube channel “Ryan’s World,” which can get millions of views. The KIDS Act would not ban the content, but prohibit the platform from recommending it to kids, curbing its distribution. Continue reading Bipartisan Bill Would Further Regulate Online Content for Kids

Intel Issues a Patch to Address Concerns About Chip Security

According to researchers at security firm Positive Technologies, Intel chips that were released during the past five years contain a flaw that may allow hackers to overcome built-in security measures. The flaw is in the Converged Security and Management Engine (CSME), described as a subsystem inside CPUs and chipsets similar to AMD’s Platform Security Processor. Intel has issued a patch, but Positive Technologies said it may not be enough to protect systems containing the flawed products. Intel’s 10th generation processors are reportedly not among those affected. Continue reading Intel Issues a Patch to Address Concerns About Chip Security

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