Quest: Oculus Demonstrates its $399 Standalone VR Headset

Oculus’ prototype wireless VR headset, codenamed Santa Cruz, is now a product. The new Quest headset is slated to debut this coming spring for $399. At its annual developer conference, the Facebook-owned company showed off the Quest headset, which joins the $199 Oculus Go and $400 Oculus Rift (that requires a dedicated PC). The standalone Quest offers 6DOF (six degrees of freedom). In his keynote address at the event, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg reiterated his goal to have one billion people using VR. Continue reading Quest: Oculus Demonstrates its $399 Standalone VR Headset

Amazon Unveils NYC Retail Store for 4+ Star Online Products

Amazon has opened a brick-and-mortar retail store, dubbed Amazon 4-star, in New York City’s Soho neighborhood. Amazon 4-star is so named because it will carry goods — starting off with consumer electronics, kitchen, home, toys, books and games — that shoppers have rated with at least four stars, are sold by top sellers or are “new and trending.” This physical retail store joins Amazon’s 12+ bookstores and a few cashierless Go convenience stores, as well as the Whole Foods grocery stores it acquired. Continue reading Amazon Unveils NYC Retail Store for 4+ Star Online Products

State Officials Consider a Joint Investigation of Tech Players

In a meeting of nine state officials and representatives of five other states led by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the market dominance and privacy practices of large tech companies were discussed, as well as the possibility of a joint investigation of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and others. Attorney General Doug Peterson (R-Nebraska) said his state is examining just such a multi-state inquiry into antitrust and consumer protection issues. Potential political bias, a previously raised topic, was barely touched. Continue reading State Officials Consider a Joint Investigation of Tech Players

ABC Stations Target Millennials With ‘Localish’ Mobile Brand

The ABC Owned Television Stations Group has debuted Localish, a brand targeting digital-native millennials with hyper-local stories that will be distributed on digital and social media platforms. The stations already have a large digital and social presence, making this segue to Localish a natural move. Creation of the brand is based on ABC research that found this cohort feels better about their local community than the world. The ABC websites, social platforms, iOS and Android apps and Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV will play the content. Continue reading ABC Stations Target Millennials With ‘Localish’ Mobile Brand

Qualcomm Alleges Apple Shared Trade Secrets to Help Intel

In California Supreme Court in San Diego this week, Qualcomm charged Apple with stealing computer source code, software development tools and log files of data about its products’ performance and giving it to Intel, with the goal of reducing its need for Qualcomm chips. The two tech behemoths have been involved in a legal battle since last year, when Qualcomm accused Apple of a “multiyear campaign of sloppy, inappropriate and deceitful conduct to steal Qualcomm’s information and trade secrets” to help Intel. Continue reading Qualcomm Alleges Apple Shared Trade Secrets to Help Intel

Music Modernization Act Passed in Senate, Returns to House

Following the House of Representatives passage of the Music Modernization Act in April, the U.S. Senate also gave its unanimous consent on September 18. The bill was renamed after Republican Utah senator Orrin Hatch, also a songwriter, scheduled to retire at the end of his term this year. With the Senate passage, the bill will return to the House to get approval for all the changes made to achieve Senate approval. If and when the House approves, the bill will go to President Donald Trump to become law. Continue reading Music Modernization Act Passed in Senate, Returns to House

Magic Leap, Microsoft Bid for U.S. Army’s AR Headset Project

According to sources, Magic Leap is angling to win a contract with the U.S. Army to provide up to 100,000 augmented reality headsets. The headsets would be part of a $500+ million Army program to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy.” Such a mammoth contract would be a huge win for this high-profile startup, whose AR headsets for the consumer market have not yet significantly caught on. Microsoft, with its HoloLens, has also shown interest in the Army’s program. Continue reading Magic Leap, Microsoft Bid for U.S. Army’s AR Headset Project

Google Shares New Vision for Search: Keeping Users Closer

At an event on the “Future of Search,” Google unveiled what’s next for its search engine. The Google homepage will start highlighting a user’s frequently searched topics before she begins searching, in response to a finding that one in eight queries per month are repeats. Google Feed is being rebranded as “Discover,” and will be placed underneath the Google.com search bar on all mobile browsers, highlighting news, video and information Google believes the user is interested in. Visuals will be more prominent on the site. Continue reading Google Shares New Vision for Search: Keeping Users Closer

Apple’s Hollywood Strategy Focuses on Family-Friendly Fare

Last year Apple set aside $1 billion for Hollywood entertainment. But as the tech company pushes into entertainment, it faces issues related to its brand. Its first scripted drama, “Vital Signs,” a semi-biographical story about Dr. Dre, is a key example. After seeing its guns, cocaine and adult themes, Apple chief executive Tim Cook reportedly told Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine that the content went too far, say sources, and nixed the series. Cook wants entertainment, but not the kind that could tarnish Apple’s brand. Continue reading Apple’s Hollywood Strategy Focuses on Family-Friendly Fare

Journalists Unveil The Markup to Investigate Tech Algorithms

ProPublica journalist Julia Angwin has worked with programmers and data scientists to uncover the algorithms used by big tech companies such as Facebook and how these tools can be used to promote scams, racial bias and extremist content. Now, with a $20 million gift from Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Angwin and data journalist Jeff Larson are starting The Markup, a new site focused on investigating technology and its impact on society. Wikimedia Foundation former head Sue Gardner will be executive director. Continue reading Journalists Unveil The Markup to Investigate Tech Algorithms

Walmart to Expand VR-Based Employee Training to All Stores

Walmart is widening its VR-based employee-training program in the U.S., shipping four Oculus Go VR headsets to each Walmart Supercenter and two to smaller Neighborhood Market stores starting in October, for a total of 17,000 Oculus Go headsets by the end of 2018. The retailer first tried out VR for employee training a year ago, and is expanding it due to employee feedback that it boosted their confidence and familiarity with technology. VR software company STRIVR has created 45 activity-based modules for the employees. Continue reading Walmart to Expand VR-Based Employee Training to All Stores

Rokoko Offers Up Motion-Capture Library in Unity Asset Store

Rokoko made its library of professionally produced digital motion capture assets available for purchase in the Unity Asset Store. Its SmartSuit Pro captures an actor’s movements, turning them into data that can be used to animate characters in games and movies. Unity Technologies, which makes the Unity game engine, offers pre-made assets to game developers who are looking to avoid the hefty price of professional motion capture. Assets in The Motion Library are available for as little as $1 and a $10 monthly subscription. Continue reading Rokoko Offers Up Motion-Capture Library in Unity Asset Store

Ampere Takes On Intel With its ARM-Based Server Processor

Silicon Valley-based Ampere introduced two versions of its first ARM-based 64-bit server processor featuring its Ampere eMAG processors for data centers. Currently, Intel dominates this arena with 99 percent of the market using its x86-based processors. According to Ampere chief executive Renee James, a former Intel president, customers can order the chip — which is aimed at hyperscale cloud and edge computing, using ARMv8-A cores — from the company website. The Carlyle Group backs Ampere, which has 400 employees. Continue reading Ampere Takes On Intel With its ARM-Based Server Processor

Amazon’s Two-Day Delivery Sets the Bar for Today’s Retailers

Amazon’s Prime program that offers two-day shipping to its 100 million members has become a standard that other retailers have struggled to meet. Last year, Target, Walmart and many Google Express vendors started offering two-day delivery, some of it free. The latest company to do so is Overstock.com, which claims it can reach 99 percent of the U.S. in two days from one distribution center in Kansas City, Kansas. In comparison, Amazon operates 75 fulfillment centers and 25 sortation centers. Continue reading Amazon’s Two-Day Delivery Sets the Bar for Today’s Retailers

Apple TV Offers a Turnkey Premium Format With Dolby Atmos

Apple TV 4K, with the launch of tvOS 12, is about to get Dolby Atmos surround sound. Dolby Atmos, initially launched in movie theaters, differs from other cinema surround sound systems by replacing a fixed number of audio channels with the concept of audio “objects.” With Atmos, sound designers and mixers can manipulate each sound as an audio “object” and place it anywhere inside the “virtual” theater. When Atmos is played back in a real theater, the mix is mapped to the speakers to recreate the original intent. Continue reading Apple TV Offers a Turnkey Premium Format With Dolby Atmos

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