VPPA Update Enables Netflix to Share User Data on Facebook

President Obama signed into law an amended version of the Video Piracy Protection Act, which will allow Netflix and other rental services to integrate viewing data with social media sites. Customers must consent to the shared data, which will share data related to watching, rating, and saving on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Netflix hopes the integration will increase viewing hours and customer subscriptions. Continue reading VPPA Update Enables Netflix to Share User Data on Facebook

CES 2013: Interactive Credit Card Enables Instant Rewards

Dynamics Inc. is showcasing a credit card “charge plus instant reward” solution that blends a multi-account credit card with a customer profile and purchase-tracking infrastructure. This enables Dynamics’ client companies to instantly offer personally relevant rewards to consumers when they make purchases. The battery-powered card allows users to securely choose from rewards using mechanized buttons on the card. Continue reading CES 2013: Interactive Credit Card Enables Instant Rewards

Esquire Offers Interactive Print Edition Enabled by Netpage Mobile App

  • Hearst is going mobile to make the December issue of Esquire completely interactive, without the need for QR codes or digital watermarks. The Netpage application allows mobile users to access additional content or save and share content with friends on social media sites.
  • A Lexus ad, for example, can be activated with animation that turns into a 30-second video — and some products found in the issue can be purchased using the app. Scanning the cover leads to an exclusive video with actor Bradley Cooper. Readers can also interact with recipes and digital storefronts.
  • “Print publishers are embracing mobile to help drive deeper engagements with their publications as readers increasingly look to consume media via smartphones and tablets,” reports Mobile Marketer.
  • “Esquire’s readers and advertisers have come to expect leading-edge content experiences — this partnership with Netpage represents both a ‘first’ and a new standard for the industry,” says Jack Essig, senior VP, publishing director and chief revenue officer at Esquire.
  • “As partners in breaking boundaries, Esquire and Lexus will not only deliver a new means for engaging with our content but will also fuel the conversation around both our brands,” he adds.
  • “Going forward, all Esquire issues will be mobile-enabled via the Netpage app,” notes the post. “Hearst is also currently testing Netpage for other magazines with plans to launch more mobile-enabled titles next year.”

Technology Enables Customizing TV Shows and Catching Up On Series

  • StoryVisualizer (or StoViz), a new PC-based technology, can reconfigure video sequences around specific characters to create a “personalized video episode” based on a specific character, writes New Scientist.
  • StoViz uses image analysis to isolate actors’ faces and the backgrounds in certain scenes. The technology also analyzes audio to find key words that help compile similar scenes and stories.
  • “The software then assembles a group of scenes that its video and audio algorithms have decided are semantically similar, and therefore hopefully represents the same plot line,” explains the article.
  • Hervé Bredin of the Computer Sciences Laboratory for Mechanics and Engineering Sciences in Orsay, France has been working with a team at the Toulouse Institute for Computer Science Research to develop the technology. The team has tested StoViz on TV series with different formats: “Malcolm in the Middle,” “Game of Thrones” and “Ally McBeal.”
  • “The system could easily be activated via a screen menu, says Bredin, and perhaps in the not-too-distant future you might simply say the name of your favorite character to a Siri-like voice interface,” suggests the article.
  • The technology could be useful for people who need to catch up on a series or wish to understand the backstory behind a character. But some question if the technology is actually useful.
  • “I frankly wonder about the character of a viewer who would wish to use this when up to date with a series,” says Simon Parnall of pay TV systems maker NDS.

NOOK HD Becomes First UltraViolet-Enabled Tablet

  • Barnes & Noble announced it has struck deals with NBCUniversal, Fox Home Entertainment and other major studios to bring more movies and TV shows to its NOOK tablets.
  • Consumers can now stream or download popular television series or movie titles such as “Snow White and the Huntsman,” “Battleship,” “Ice Age: Continental Drift” and “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.”
  • The NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ (which started shipping last week) also connect users’ UltraViolet video libraries “right out of the box,” reports RTTNews.
  • “The company stated that customers will be able to easily link their UltraViolet accounts to the NOOK Cloud allowing them to view their previously and newly purchased UltraViolet-enabled movies and TV shows across NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ devices and free NOOK Video apps coming soon,” the article explains.
  • According to the press release: “In addition to purchasing movies and TV shows via NOOK Video, customers can shop for DVDs and Blu-ray Discs with the UltraViolet logo in Barnes & Noble and other retail stores, add them to their digital collection, and instantly watch compatible titles from the NOOK Cloud to enjoy wherever they go and however they choose.”
  • “This is certainly a huge bonus for consumers that have a big UV library, and coupled with all the new content, we wouldn’t be surprised if NOOK sales start stealing a little heat from the Fire,” comments Engadget in a related post, referring to NOOK competitor — the Kindle Fire from Amazon.

JVC Surprises Many with New Reasonably Priced 55-inch Smart TV

  • JVC has announced its LED edge-lit 55-inch smart TV. Bundled with 4 pairs of passive 3D glasses, the new model will run $1,300 when it becomes available in January.
  • “When JVC merged with its subsidiaries to form JVC Kenwood Corps, many assumed — and the company’s public statements indicated — that it would be narrowing its focus, directing its attention towards home and car audio, and effectively ceding the TV market to its competitors,” notes Digital Trends.
  • “It has certainly spun a 180 by announcing its new 55-inch JLE55SP4000 XinemaView 3D HDTV. Further confounding industry analysts is the fact that the TV is just the initial entry in an entire line, which the company is calling BlackSapphire.”
  • Specifications include built-in Wi-Fi, a QWERTY keyboard, 1080p full HD and 120Hz refresh rate, built-in woofer and 45 watts of output power.
  • The set features USB, HDMI, component and composite inputs and comes pre-loaded with Netflix, Vudu, YouTube and Pandora.
  • “The TV has onboard 802.11n wireless and boasts a number of apps including, uniquely, the Slingbox Player,” reports CNET in its review. “This is the first TV that enables users to serve content from a Slingbox in another room, or anywhere in the world.”

Redbox and Warner Bros. Sign Deal to Offer UltraViolet-Enabled Titles

  • Redbox Instant, Coinstar’s new venture with Verizon, has secured a deal with Warner Bros. to distribute digital movies.
  • Warner Bros. becomes the first studio partner for the upcoming subscription streaming and rental service created to compete with Netflix and Amazon.
  • “This agreement fits perfectly with Redbox Instant by Verizon’s vision for bringing people the movies that matter, wherever and whenever they choose, using the devices and media they prefer, at home or away,” says Shawn Strickland, CEO of Redbox Instant by Verizon.
  • In a separate multi-year deal, DVD titles released between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2014 will come to Redbox kiosks 28 days after their retail release dates. Warner initially pursued a 56-day delay, which Redbox avoided by buying discs from retailers for day-and-date distribution.
  • “The Instant by Verizon digital service, which is set to launch later this year, can support and distribute Warner Bros. UltraViolet-enabled pics, a key part of the overall deal given Redbox’s easy interface with consumers,” reports Variety. “Redbox also announced plans to join the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem industry group to promote UltraViolet through marketing and promotions.”
  • “Streaming titles will be available in VOD and electronic sell-through format, and the pact covers a multi-year SVOD pact supporting feature-length content,” notes the article.

BBC Worldwide Launches First UltraViolet-Enabled Blu-ray/DVDs

  • Nearly one year after its U.S. launch, the UltraViolet digital locker system is getting a boost in the UK from BBC Worldwide.
  • “The BBC’s commercial wing is releasing four Blu-ray/DVD titles that are UltraViolet-enabled and is partnering with Warner-owned Flixster to allow users to redeem their copies,” reports Engadget.
  • The first four titles will be: “Doctor Who Series 7 Part One,” “Rollercoaster,” a new “Top Gear” special and “Attenborough: 60 Years in the Wild.”
  • “We’re thrilled to be announcing our first UV-enabled DVDs and embrace this new era for home video — the UltraViolet era,” comments Claude London of BBC Worldwide Consumer Products. “We hope UV will empower consumers to build digital entertainment libraries and continue to enjoy BBC Worldwide releases either at home or on the move.”
  • UltraViolet was already live in the UK and will soon be introduced to Canada, Ireland and Australia.
  • “We’ll see how users like the signup process with its multiple logins, but a quick check of previous Blu-ray releases didn’t show any iTunes or Windows Media digital copies at all so at least they’ll appreciate the option,” suggests Engadget.

Complex Gesture Control Enabled by 3D Cameras Tracking Fingers

  • After the Kinect for Xbox took off for enhanced gaming, many have imagined other uses for the motion-recognition technology. But when it comes to personal computing, the Kinect cannot quickly and accurately detect hand and finger movement. 3Gear wants to change this.
  • The San Francisco startup has created a gesture interface that can track finger movements using two 3D cameras positioned above the user on either side.
  • “3Gear’s system uses two depth cameras (the same type used with Kinect) that capture 30 frames per second. The position of a user’s hands and fingers are matched to a database of 30,000 potential hand and finger configurations,” which takes only 33 milliseconds, explains Technology Review.
  • 3Gear has made the technology available to developers for free until November 30.
  • “The hope is that developers will create useful applications that will expand the reach of 3Gear’s hand-tracking algorithms,” notes the article. “Eventually, says Robert Wang, who co-founded the company, 3Gear’s technology could be used by engineers to craft 3D objects, by gamers who want precision play, by surgeons who need to manipulate 3D data during operations, and by anyone who wants a computer to do her bidding with a wave of the finger.”
  • Interest in gesture-recognition has increased, but in personal computing the technology must compete with the familiar keyboard and mouse.
  • “One problem with gestural interfaces — as well as touch-screen desktop displays — is that they can be uncomfortable to use,” the article states. “They sometimes lead to an ache dubbed ‘gorilla arm.’ As a result, Wang says, 3Gear focused on making its gesture interface practical and comfortable.”

In Wake of Questionable Call, NFL Social Media Sentiment Plunges

  • Since the questionable call by replacement referees in the final moments of Monday night’s Seahawks-Packers game, the National Football League has been taking a beating on Twitter.
  • “According to social media firm NetBase, the NFL’s negative sentiment rating during the last 24 hours has come in at 76 percent,” reported Adweek at 2:30 PM ET on Tuesday, “compared to 27 percent it averaged this month through September 23. The data-point entails millions of messages on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other sites.”
  • Despite increasing negative sentiment noted around terms such as “NFL” and “refs,” league officials suggest they are more concerned about TV ratings than social media chatter.
  • But with everyone from players to President Obama posting frustrated tweets in response, experts are divided as to whether the NFL will be able to keep ignoring angry Twitter users.
  • “While social media helps cultivate and expose the amount of frustration, the reality is, the NFL brand is so strong, it is unlikely we will see a negative backlash of fan support in the coming weeks,” says Ken Wisnefski, CEO of WebiMax.
  • “I agree that it is a major mistake to have a wrong call especially in this fashion, thus there is an opportunity for the League and [NFL commissioner] Goodell to express their support for the quality of the product and work to resolve this immediately,” he adds.

Cybernoids Live2D Enables Interactive 3D Animation of 2D Images

  • Live2D aims to take your 2D drawings and render them in 3D. Developed by Cybernoids, the technology “makes the graphics appear exactly as the creator intended,” according to the company’s CEO Tetsuya Nakajo.
  • “You can also use the tools to work more easily and efficiently. This can be done in all kinds of ways, with all kinds of emphasis, depending on what the creator wants to do,” notes Nakajo. “This technology is an extension of drawing, so it works best if the creator has a good artistic sense.”
  • The tools support “content creation using either polygons or vectors,” DigInfo TV writes. “A 3D engine is used to power the polygon-based version, so it can achieve fast, fluid motion even on mobile devices.”
  • Live2D is available across various portable consoles and smartphones. For now, the technology is mostly used for games with limited movement, but Cybernoids aims to provide 360 degree animations in the future.
  • “We’re aiming for this technology to be used worldwide, hopefully creating a market for revolving graphics in 2D, like with 3D. So, our goal is for this technology to become a de facto standard worldwide,” Nakajo says.

Bing Feature Enables Users to Search Friends Facebook Photos

  • The development team at search engine Bing has created a new feature that allows users to browse friends’ Facebook photo albums and search for specific images via keywords.
  • “Called the Friends’ Photo feature, any Facebook user can visit www.bing.com/friendsphotos and log into Facebook in order to enable access to photo albums,” reports Digital Trends. “The most recent photos posted by your friends will appear in a large thumbnail format on the screen similar to the layout of Pinterest.”
  • “Each photo can be clicked to open up a version at a larger resolution,” notes the post. “In addition, comments about the photo are loaded on the right side of the page. The user has the ability to add a comment, like or share the photo as well as open up the photo on Facebook.”
  • While the real advantage to this functionality on Bing is the search bar, it is worth noting that a successful search via keywords is reliant upon effective tagging and adequate descriptions.
  • “According to Bing, the Friends’ Photo feature doesn’t work with Facebook users that have blocked photos from being accessed by third-party applications,” explains the post. “Facebook users can edit this setting by visiting the Privacy Settings page and clicking on ‘Edit Settings’ in the ‘Ads, Apps and Websites’ row.”

Researchers Develop Technique That Could Enable Glasses-Free 3D

  • South Korean researchers have developed a new method to view 3D movies without glasses. The research was recently published in The Optical Society’s Optics Express.
  • In traditional 3D theatrical displays, we know that projectors shoot two images onto the same screen at the same time. 3D glasses help separate the images, only allowing one image in the left eye, and the other image in the right eye.
  • There are some glasses-free 3D displays on the market, such as those used for Nintendo’s 3DS handheld game system and the HTC Evo 3D smartphone. But using a similar technique theatrically would require rear projection — an obstacle for most theaters.
  • The South Korean research team’s system uses a “special array” to polarize the light as it leaves the projector. The method also uses a filter to partition the screen into different sections.
  • “The trick then is to have the light visible to your left eye contain the left-eye pixels and vice-versa for the right eye,” explains Wired.
  • But the blocking of light in different parts of the screen causes low screen resolution. Despite this problem, physicist John Koshel still believes many theaters will eventually adopt the technology since it is less expensive than using multiple projectors, and people will enjoy not having to wear glasses.
  • “This technology is still in its infancy, but it’s a new step that was hidden for a long time,” explains Koshel.

DirecTV Drops Viacom Channels: Both Sides Unable to Resolve Fee Dispute

  • Unable to agree on terms for a new contract, more than a dozen Viacom channels were pulled from DirecTV on Wednesday.
  • DirecTV customers lost access to Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and other cable channels owned by Viacom.
  • Viacom claims it is seeking “only a couple pennies per day, per subscriber,” while DirecTV has countered that Viacom is pushing for “customers to pay more than a 30 percent increase, which equates to an extra $1 billion.”
  • “On DirecTV’s side, it’s claiming it sent proposals but never heard anything back and as such was forced to pull the channels,” reports Engadget. “Viacom has been running ads and notices all day to make sure kids big and little call DirecTV to apply pressure about missing their television shows.”
  • “The two companies blamed each other for the blackout, which began around midnight as a result of a dispute over a new carriage contract for the Viacom-owned channels,” reports The New York Times. “About 20 million households are affected, representing one-fifth of all the nation’s subscribers to cable or satellite television service.”
  • DirecTV is suggesting that customers access Viacom content online and via services such as Amazon Prime or Netflix until the situation can be resolved.
  • “Viacom took action to make that more difficult Wednesday afternoon — not just for DirecTV customers, but for all Internet users,” according to NYT. “The company took episodes of ‘The Daily Show,’ ‘The Colbert Report’ and some other popular shows off its Web sites.”
  • In an effort to rally public support, Viacom posted an image of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants on Facebook with the accompanying quote, “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? I don’t know. I have DirecTV.” However, initial public complaints seem to be directed at both companies.

WWDC: Mountain Lion OS X Enables AirPlay Mirroring to Your TV

  • At Monday’s WWDC event, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced a new MacBook Pro, OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6, a Google Maps replacement, Facetime without Wi-Fi and more. However, it was a new mirroring feature that caught the attention of many.
  • “A potentially disruptive feature of the upgraded OS X enables Mac users to mirror their laptop’s display on their TV sets with one click, via Apple TV and AirPlay,” notes Lost Remote. “Until now, porting video to your TV set outside iTunes required running a cable from your laptop to your TV. But now, if you’re watching a clip on Hulu or a TV website (or playing a game, editing a document, etc.), just click and watch it on the big screen.”
  • “That alone may be worth the $99 for Apple TV, which becomes a wireless receiver, to boot,” adds the post.
  • “If you have an Apple TV, you’re going to love Apple’s new AirPlay Mirroring, which allows you to mirror what’s on your Mac in a 1080p stream to your Apple TV, allowing everybody to look at what you’re working on,” reports 9to5 Mac in a related post. “This feature is perfect for meetings, getting rid of the need for expensive projectors.”
  • SlashGear adds: “…the introduction of Game Center on OS X Mountain Lion also means that games can be streamed or mirrored. With AirPlay and Game Center now integrated into the Mac, users can play against other Mac users or even iPhone and iPad users.”
  • The new Mountain Lion OS X will be available in July.