Streaming TV Service Locast Receives a Boost From AT&T

Locast is a streaming service that allows those without a pay-TV subscription to watch sports, news and primetime broadcast programming. Backed by the non-profit Sports Fan Coalition, Locast last week received a $500,000 contribution from AT&T. The service has launched in New York and Los Angeles among other large markets. But Locast has not received TV stations’ consent to carry their feeds, something required by federal copyright law, nor is it paying fees, which comprise a significant portion of broadcasters’ revenue. Continue reading Streaming TV Service Locast Receives a Boost From AT&T

Amazon-Google Truce Offers More Cross-Platform Access

Google and Amazon, which reached a truce in April after months of wrangling, opened the door to multiple cross-platform compatibilities: Amazon Fire TV streaming platforms will now carry Google’s YouTube, YouTube TV and YouTube Kids apps — and Google Chromecast platforms and Android TVs will carry Amazon Prime Video. In addition, users will be able to request YouTube content on the Fire TV via the Alexa voice assistant. Not available yet is the ability of Google Assistant to work with Amazon Prime Video on Chromecast. Continue reading Amazon-Google Truce Offers More Cross-Platform Access

Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Up until now, massive conglomerates have dominated robotics, but that’s about to change, as the cost of hardware production plunges (due to globalization) and computing and cloud solutions become cheaper, more powerful and easy to ramp up. That’s given rise to Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions, in which vertical-specific hardware and software are bundled and sold in monthly subscription packages. At the same time, California enacted a new law that would require a bot to reveal its “artificial identity.” Continue reading Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Upcoming Apple TV Plus Will Focus on Quality Not Quantity

Apple senior vice president of Internet software and services Eddy Cue has released some details about the company’s Apple TV Plus service, scheduled to launch in the fall. Positioning itself opposite Netflix’s strategy, cue said that Apple will be “creating the best” rather than “the most” original content. He added that there is “nothing wrong” with Netflix’s model, “but it’s not our model.” Apple is a latecomer to streaming video, although Disney, NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. will also debut platforms in 2019 and 2020. Continue reading Upcoming Apple TV Plus Will Focus on Quality Not Quantity

BBC and ITV Join Forces to Launch Rival to U.S. Streamers

In the U.K., Amazon and Netflix now own about two-thirds of that country’s video streaming market and, for the second time, the BBC and ITV are trying to pool their assets to launch their own streaming platform. Their first effort to do so, in 2007, was squelched by regulators. The new platform, dubbed BritBox (a version of which has been available in North America), is expected to make its U.K. debut later in 2019, with the two broadcasters’ popular shows and new content. But the BBC and ITV are still struggling to resolve issues of budget, audience data sharing and content exclusivity. Continue reading BBC and ITV Join Forces to Launch Rival to U.S. Streamers

G20 Summit: President Trump Partially Lifts Ban on Huawei

At the Group of 20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, President Trump stated that U.S. products can again be sold to Huawei Technologies, allowing the Chinese tech company to buy the U.S. components it needs to stay afloat. Trump added, however, that his move does not lift the ban on goods related to national security. Much of the U.S. concern about Huawei has centered on claims that its products are security risks, and the Commerce Department has been hesitant to remove Huawei from its blacklist. Today, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. will issue licenses for companies wanting to do business with Huawei as long as there is no threat to national security. Continue reading G20 Summit: President Trump Partially Lifts Ban on Huawei

Internet Providers Positioned to Mine Data for Targeted Ads

Broadband Internet providers gather masses of data on consumer behavior but thus far have been slow to use that data for targeted advertising. However, as cable and telecom companies feel the negative impact of cord-cutting, they are beginning to look to their broadband units to make up the shortfall. AT&T and Google Fiber already mine customer data, but Altice USA, Comcast, Charter Communications and Verizon Communications have been reluctant to either gather or use personal data, for fear of customer pushback. Continue reading Internet Providers Positioned to Mine Data for Targeted Ads

Spotify Allows Music Labels to Access Data About its Users

Music streaming service Spotify allows users to “pre-save” an upcoming release to their accounts. But users don’t realize that, by doing so, they are also agreeing to let Spotify release more personal data than is typical to the upcoming release’s label. Those labels can access information to track a user’s listening behavior, change the musicians they follow and possibly even control their music streaming remotely. In an era in which data privacy is receiving more consumer attention, Spotify’s practice is likely to become an issue. Continue reading Spotify Allows Music Labels to Access Data About its Users

Researchers Identify Bugs in Microsoft Excel, Apple macOS

Threat intelligence firm Mimecast revealed that hackers are exploiting a Microsoft Excel feature called Power Query to facilitate Office 365 attacks. This feature lets legitimate users combine data from various sources by linking to those components in a spreadsheet. Hackers replace a link with another that leads to a site infected with malware. The hacked Excel spreadsheets then allow attackers to install backdoors, using the software program’s own tools. Meanwhile, Apple has yet to fix a macOS bug first identified by a cybersecurity researcher in February. Continue reading Researchers Identify Bugs in Microsoft Excel, Apple macOS

Hollywood Technology Execs Gather at Annual ETC Dinner

The Entertainment Technology Center @ the University of Southern California (ETC) held its 8th annual Studio Technology Leaders Dinner this week, which coincided with the 26th anniversary of ETC’s founding. Executive director & CEO Ken Williams noted that the event, which was underwritten by supporting sponsor Equinix and contributing sponsor WekaIO, would honor industry leader Leon Silverman with the Bob Lambert Technology Leadership Award and feature a panel to examine some of the industry’s most pressing issues in “Media Fundamentals in Flex: Conflict, Chaos or Collaboration.” Continue reading Hollywood Technology Execs Gather at Annual ETC Dinner

Lawmakers Aim to Control Malicious Content Enabled by AI

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee began a series of hearings to look into “emerging technological breakthroughs” to control malicious content posted on digital platforms by AI-enabled software including bots. Facebook head of global policy management Monika Bickert testified that the company has prioritized the development of such tools. Chief information officers at numerous tech companies are paying attention, worried that lawmakers are considering regulating the use of AI. Continue reading Lawmakers Aim to Control Malicious Content Enabled by AI

Spotify’s Soundtrap Expands its Free Toolset for Podcasters

Acquired by Spotify in 2017, cloud-based audio recording studio Soundtrap just expanded its free tier for podcasters, now offering access to an unlimited number of projects and 2,210 loops. All creators using Soundtrap will now have unlimited free storage for podcasts and songs. Founded in 2012, the Swedish-based company has offered four subscription tiers, ranging from $10 to $17 per month, all supporting an unlimited number of projects, 550 instruments and 4,100 loops. Soundtrap’s free tier previously limited users to five projects and 900 loops. The number of available instruments will remain the same. Continue reading Spotify’s Soundtrap Expands its Free Toolset for Podcasters

Firms Test Limits of Commerce Department Ban on Huawei

Although the White House has banned U.S. companies from selling technology to Huawei Technologies, some chipmakers, including Intel and Micron, are doing so by labeling goods produced overseas as not being “American-made.” The ban actually begins in mid-August, and U.S. suppliers, their attorneys and the Trump administration are mulling over if and how the ban impacts current sales. Meanwhile, FedEx has filed a lawsuit against the U.S., saying it cannot police the millions of packages it sends. Continue reading Firms Test Limits of Commerce Department Ban on Huawei

Cybersecurity Report Finds Extensive Flaws in Huawei Gear

Ohio-based cybersecurity firm Finite State released a report that documents flaws in Huawei Technologies’ equipment that can be used by hackers. According to the report, these flaws are much more extensive than those found in similar gear from rival companies. The report does not, however, accuse the company of incorporating these flaws deliberately and does not comment on U.S. claims that the Chinese company uses such flaws to conduct espionage. The flaws were found in firmware, which enables a computer’s hardware. Continue reading Cybersecurity Report Finds Extensive Flaws in Huawei Gear

Consortium Releases New Measurement Benchmarks for AI

MLPerf, a consortium of 40 technology companies including Google and Facebook, just released benchmarks for evaluating artificial intelligence-enabled tools, including image recognition, object detection and voice translation. MLPerf general chair Peter Mattson, a Google engineer, reported, “for CIOs, metrics make for better products and services they can then incorporate into their organization.” Thus far, organizations have been slow to adopt AI technologies, in part due to the plethora of tools and services available. Continue reading Consortium Releases New Measurement Benchmarks for AI

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