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Google and IBM Create Advanced Text-to-Speech Systems

Both IBM and Google recently advanced development of Text-to-Speech (TTS) systems to create high-quality digital speech. OpenAI found that, since 2012, the compute power needed to train TTS models has exploded to more than 300,000 times. IBM created a much less compute-intensive model for speech synthesis, stating that it is able to do so in real-time and adapt to new speaking styles with little data. Google and Imperial College London created a generative adversarial network (GAN) to create high-quality synthetic speech. Read more

Apple Aims for Traditional Theatrical Exhibition of Its Movies

According to sources, Apple is in talks with cinema chains to open its feature-length films in a traditional theatrical release, with an exclusive stay in theaters before becoming available on Apple TV+. Apple might choose, however, to first debut its films in art house cinemas in New York and Los Angeles. The company reportedly is pursuing this strategy to draw in major directors and producers, as well as avoid the tension Netflix created when it released its movies without an exclusivity window. Read more

TV Execs Push to Include Out-of-Home Viewing in Ratings

Local TV station executives are increasingly aware that viewers watch content on all kinds of devices. Accordingly, NBCUniversal and Hearst have stopped using traditional ratings and switched to total viewer impressions, which will count all the ways a show is viewed. Other local TV groups vowed to do the same by 2020. At the same time, national TV executives also plan to add in those who view shows outside the home, in offices, hotels and the like, into final ratings. Nielsen has long dominated ratings of linear TV viewership. Read more

Incoming EU Commissioners Plan Tax for Digital Companies

Impatient with the slow pace of overhauling corporate taxation to better represent the real profits of international digital companies, European Union commissioners propose that the EU agree on a tax if no global decision is reached by end of 2020. Up until now, individual countries have crafted different approaches to taxation. In France, former digital affairs minister Mounir Mahjoubi said he may file an amendment to a budget bill forcing these same Internet behemoths to reveal how much profit they make in the country. Read more

Amazon Eyes Low-Income Shoppers With PayCode Service

Amazon recently announced PayCode, a new pay-with-cash option for its online shoppers. The e-commerce giant’s service is the latest step in taking on low-price retail chains like Walmart. The move could help attract the 8+ million low-income households in the U.S. that do not presently have bank accounts, debit cards or credit cards. PayCode users can place an order on Amazon and then pay in cash within 24 hours at one of 15,000 Western Union locations. Amazon is also looking to expand its recently developed cashierless Go technology by bringing it to retailers such as movie theaters and airport shops. Read more

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