Drone Sales Grow 224 Percent Year-Over-Year to $200 Million

The FAA’s mandatory drone registration does not seem to be impacting UAV sales, which have grown 224 percent from April 2015 to April 2016 for a total of nearly $200 million, according to The NPD Group. Robotics Trends reports the FAA’s database indicates there are now “461,433 registered hobbyist drone owners in 39,471 zip codes.” NPD notes that DJI is the clear U.S. market leader at 49 percent, followed by Parrot (19 percent), Protocol (6.3 percent), Yuneec (5.6 percent) and 3D Robotics (4 percent). Drones with 4K cameras represented more than one-third of sales for the 12 month period, and GPS-outfitted drones accounted for 64 percent of sales. Continue reading Drone Sales Grow 224 Percent Year-Over-Year to $200 Million

The Netflix Zone: Virtual Video Store Showcased at Hack Day

One of the more compelling demos during Netflix’s latest Hack Day was a virtual reality showroom using HTC Vive’s room-scale VR. Developers Joey Cato, Marco Caldeira and Adnan Abbas created “The Netflix Zone,” where subscribers can peruse titles on shelf racks arranged by categories and personal recommendations. Movies and original shows such as “Orange Is the New Black” and “House of Cards” appear on shelves as VHS cassettes. When you select certain cassettes, the shop morphs into a setting that reflects the title. Continue reading The Netflix Zone: Virtual Video Store Showcased at Hack Day

Jury Sides with Google in Oracle Copyright Case Over Software

Yesterday, a jury ruled in favor of Google in its dispute with Oracle over software used to power smartphones. Oracle was seeking $9 billion in its claim that Google used copyrighted material in its software code for the company’s Android mobile operating system. Android uses open-source Java, which Oracle acquired when it purchased Sun Microsystems in 2010. Google argued that it made fair use of the code. According to The New York Times, “The victory for Google cheered other software developers, who operate much the way Google did when it comes to so-called open-source software… The courtroom fight was something of a watershed for technology and could offer clarity on legal rules surrounding open-source technology.” Continue reading Jury Sides with Google in Oracle Copyright Case Over Software

Samsung, SK Telecom to Build First Nationwide Network for IoT

Samsung announced it is partnering with SK Telecom to build a LoRaWAN network to cover all of South Korea, claiming it would be the world’s first nationwide network for the Internet of Things. The IoT network rolls out in Daegu next month and will be available throughout the country by the middle of this year. LoRaWAN (which means “long-range wide-area network”) was already used to build a citywide IoT network in Amsterdam. “LoRaWAN represents an attempt to standardize LPWAN (low-power wide-area networks),” explains TechCrunch, “which are meant to offer a cheaper and more power-efficient alternative to Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular networks for the Internet of Things.” Continue reading Samsung, SK Telecom to Build First Nationwide Network for IoT

Facebook Plans to Shut Down LiveRail as Early as Next Week

Facebook is ready to shutter its video ad exchange LiveRail, which it purchased for a reported $400 million to $500 million in 2014. The news does not come as a surprise; former LiveRail CEO Mark Trefgarne departed in April and employees were told to look for other positions within Facebook about a week earlier. A Facebook spokesperson sent the following statement to Re/code: “We are discontinuing the LiveRail Private Exchange to focus on finding better ways for publishers to sell their ad space directly to advertisers, as well as expanding our video ad offering via Audience Network.” Continue reading Facebook Plans to Shut Down LiveRail as Early as Next Week

Google to Explore Using AI Systems to Produce Art and Music

During the Moogfest music and technology fest in North Carolina, Google Brain researcher Douglas Eck outlined a new artificial intelligence research project at Google called Magenta. The group, expected to publicly launch next month, plans to use the company’s machine learning engine TensorFlow to explore new ways that computers and AI systems could be trained to create original art and media such as music or video. The initiative should prove challenging; so far, the most advanced AI systems have struggled to replicate styles of existing artists. Continue reading Google to Explore Using AI Systems to Produce Art and Music

Twitter Character Update Makes Room for Interactive Content

Twitter is planning a series of changes designed to make communication easier via the social platform, hopefully without alienating its loyal base (earlier proposed changes led to public outcry). Notably, Twitter will modify the 140-character limit of a tweet, which often frustrates some users, but in many ways has come to define the service. “Under the rule-bending, tagging users by their handles at the beginning of replies and adding photos, GIFs and videos will no longer count against the 140-character limit in tweets,” reports The New York Times. “Twitter users will also be able to quote and ‘retweet’ — or rebroadcast — their own older tweets, which was not possible before.” Continue reading Twitter Character Update Makes Room for Interactive Content

Apple Plans Release of Siri SDK, New Home Assistant Device

Apple is reportedly prepping an SDK that would provide developers with more access to the company’s digital assistant Siri, while a stationary hub similar to Amazon’s Echo is in the works. We should expect an announcement, or possibly the new device, during next month’s WWDC. Apple is facing new competition in this space, and opening Siri “to all developers would go far to make an adequate virtual assistant into a powerful and convenient one,” suggests TechCrunch. “And, as Apple works at shoehorning itself into households with HomeKit, a versatile voice-activated hub seems a natural addition.” Continue reading Apple Plans Release of Siri SDK, New Home Assistant Device

Playmaker Media: NBC Sports Plans Video Streaming Division

Following Disney’s investment in MLB Advanced Media and Turner Broadcasting’s majority stake in iStreamPlanet, NBC Sports will reportedly launch its own sports video streaming business named Playmaker Media. The new division will focus on convincing “leagues and teams to use NBC to stream their events,” reports SportsBusiness Journal. “For media companies like ESPN, NBC and Turner, these moves to set up their own streaming companies are signs of how TV networks plan to approach the next round of sports rights negotiations, many of which will occur early next decade.” Continue reading Playmaker Media: NBC Sports Plans Video Streaming Division

HPA Plans to Spin Off Enterprise Services Unit in CSC Merger

Six months after Hewlett-Packard split into two companies, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise half announced that it plans to spin off its services business to merge with IT services firm CSC in an $8.5 billion deal. HPE will merge its $20 billion Enterprise Services unit with CSC. HPE shareholders will own about half of the combined company, which will begin operating independently next March. “What will remain at HPE is a leaner $32 billion company that leads the world in sales of servers, the computers that are stacked together in data center racks that power the Internet,” reports Re/code. Continue reading HPA Plans to Spin Off Enterprise Services Unit in CSC Merger

Microsoft is Scaling Back its Consumer Smartphone Business

Two years ago, Nokia announced that it had sold its mobile phone and smartphone businesses to Microsoft in a $7.2 billion deal. Since then, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shifted the company’s focus to bringing software and services to Android and iOS mobile systems rather than convincing consumers to use Windows. Last week, Microsoft announced it was selling its low-end feature phone business, and yesterday added it would further scale back consumer phone efforts and cut another 1,850 jobs. The company explained it would also take a $950 million charge as part of the move. Continue reading Microsoft is Scaling Back its Consumer Smartphone Business

Netflix to Become Exclusive Pay TV Home for Disney Movies

As part of an earlier deal between Netflix and Disney, the streaming service will offer Disney, Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm movies starting in September. The films will be made available “in the same window that they’d typically be made available to HBO, Starz, and other paid TV networks,” but after the Blu-ray, DVD and digital releases, explains The Verge. “All Disney films released theatrically in 2016 and beyond are included in the agreement, for which Netflix is reportedly paying hundreds of millions per year.” The pact blocks subscription networks from airing Disney’s latest titles during the first-run pay TV window, and “keeps them off Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other streaming services.” Continue reading Netflix to Become Exclusive Pay TV Home for Disney Movies

Moxi Group Plans to Release Bendable Smartphones in 2016

Chinese startup Moxi Group is looking to upstage those developing flexible screen technology by becoming the first to offer bendable smartphones. The company plans to ship 100,000 of the devices this year. The $765 phones “are designed to be rolled into a bracelet and worn on the wrist,” reports Bloomberg. “The touchscreens work when curled up, or can be unfurled into rectangles to use just like any other smartphone. For now, the gadgets will only feature black and white displays. with a color version to follow later.” Moxi will test the market in China before offering the devices in other regions. Continue reading Moxi Group Plans to Release Bendable Smartphones in 2016

Rovio’s ‘Angry Birds’ Tops the Box Office in Opening Weekend

“The Angry Birds Movie,” adapted from the popular mobile game, earned an estimated $39 million in North America during its opening weekend, taking the top spot at the box office. Rovio Entertainment, the company behind the game, self-financed the $73 million film, while Sony Pictures Entertainment handled distribution and marketing. “Rather than go the traditional route and license its characters to a studio to develop,” reports The Wall Street Journal, “Rovio backed the movie in an attempt to turn a game played on small screens into a full-fledged Hollywood franchise.” Other top earners included “Captain America: Civil War” (which became this year’s first film to earn $1 billion worldwide), “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” and “The Nice Guys.” Continue reading Rovio’s ‘Angry Birds’ Tops the Box Office in Opening Weekend

Netflix Subscribers Can Measure Internet Speed via Fast.com

Netflix has launched a new website that provides its customers with a simple way to test their Internet download speed. Fast.com is designed to help users identify what may be affecting their streaming video quality. “The goal with the site is to help you figure out who’s to blame when you have a problem with your Netflix connection,” suggests TechCrunch. “It might not be Netflix’s fault, but rather your ISP slowing things down.” The no-frills site does not offer the connection details available through related services, but it is quick and easy to use, presumably for subscribers who do not need full metrics, but would contact their ISP with any problems. Continue reading Netflix Subscribers Can Measure Internet Speed via Fast.com

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