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Blizzard Suspends Pro eSports Player for His Political Stance

Gaming company Activision Blizzard suspended an eSports player who, during a live broadcast, expressed his support for the pro-democracy protest movement in Hong Kong. Professional “Hearthstone” player Chung Ng Wai has been suspended for a year and forced to give up $10,000 in prize money. The move led to a significant backlash from gamers and politicians via social media and online forums. The public relations dilemma is similar to what played out this week following NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s support of free speech, which led to the decision by China’s state-run television not to broadcast two NBA games. Read more

iPhone 11’s Deep Fusion Creates Composited HDR Images

With the beta of iOS 13.2 arriving with the new iPhone 11, Apple is previewing Deep Fusion, the company’s name for machine learning-aided computational photography to enhance details. The trick of snapping multiple exposures that are then composited into an ideal photo might not sit well with professional photographers, but the A13 Bionic-enabled iPhone 11 will do just that, beginning to shoot before the shutter button is pressed and then picking the best bits of the photos to create the best one possible. Read more

Microsoft Files Patent Application for Virtual Reality Floor Mat

Immersed in a virtual world, the user can be at risk for bumping into real-world objects, such as walls and coffee tables. Microsoft has filed a patent application for a technology to address this issue. With its “virtual reality floor mat activity region,” the user has a designated safe space to explore, with so-called fiducial markers that help the VR headset recognize the mat as well as the possibility of pressure sensors in the mat. Some VR players have used their own rubber mats as a physical cue to be safe. Read more

Facebook’s Libra Hit by PayPal Pullout, Apple Chief’s Roast

PayPal just pulled out of Facebook’s cryptocurrency initiative Libra, introduced in June. At the time of release, Facebook partnered with 27 companies, including Mastercard, Uber and Visa, as well as PayPal. Libra is designed to be used internationally within Facebook’s own properties, such as Messenger and WhatsApp. Apple chief executive Tim Cook described Libra as a “blatant power grab,” saying that currencies should be the domain of countries and added that Apple had no plans to launch its own digital currency. Read more

CTA Predicts SVOD, Smart TVs, 5G Will Drive CE Revenue

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), producers of January’s CES tech confab in Las Vegas, recently projected CE trends for 2020 and beyond after updating its semi-annual U.S. Consumer Sales and Forecasts report. According to Variety Intelligence Platform (VIP), a new division of Variety, key takeaways from the report most relevant to the entertainment industry include subscription video streaming services, smart TVs, 4K tech, gaming and 5G Internet (in addition to related networking options and VR/AR products). CTA anticipates consumer tech retail revenue will reach $415 billion in the U.S. next year, up 5.7 percent from 2018.  Read more

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