Facebook Provides Early Global Access to eSports Feature

Facebook Gaming is introducing worldwide early access to tournaments for eSports amateurs. Though the feature had been in development for some time, said Facebook Gaming head engineer Mina Abouseif, the company released it early to help people shut-in due to the coronavirus pandemic cope better with the isolation. The tournaments feature was originally designed for live gaming events, but Facebook shifted it to one that will help people stay connected to friends, family and communities via “friendly competition.” Continue reading Facebook Provides Early Global Access to eSports Feature

Tech Leaders Focus on ‘Low Code’ and ‘No Code’ Software

Amazon, Google and Microsoft are targeting “low code” and “no code” software to enable business people to develop their own apps. Microsoft’s Power platform, which offers this capability, is the company’s fastest-growing business app ever. The company predicted that 500 million such apps will be built in the next five years, more than the total built in the last 40 years. Google Cloud just purchased Seattle-based AppSheet, a big player in this software market and rumor has it that Amazon Web Services will soon debut a similar product. Continue reading Tech Leaders Focus on ‘Low Code’ and ‘No Code’ Software

AT&T Continues Its Steps to Create Nationwide 5G Coverage

In the transition to 5G, AT&T has focused on the 39GHz millimeter wave radio band, purchasing sizable blocks of this spectrum from FiberTower. Now, the carrier stated that its 39GHz spectrum holdings have more than doubled to 786MHz, which, in principle, should allow it to offer “at least 3Gbps download speeds” across the U.S. The big “if” in this scenario is AT&T’s ability to build nationwide towers to support this short distance mmWave bandwidth. By betting on 39GHz, AT&T will have 800MHz bandwidth in some markets. Continue reading AT&T Continues Its Steps to Create Nationwide 5G Coverage

Niantic Acquires 6D.ai with Plans for Large-Scale AR Projects

Niantic has acquired 6D.ai, an augmented reality company that is building a 3D map of the world via smartphone cameras. According to Niantic chief executive John Hanke, the resulting dynamic 3D world map will enable developers to create planet-scale AR experiences. On the company blog, he stated that, “this means we’re even closer to an AR platform that will unlock the ability for any developer to make content for current and future AR hardware.” Founded in 2017, 6D.ai was spun out of Oxford University’s Active Vision Lab. Continue reading Niantic Acquires 6D.ai with Plans for Large-Scale AR Projects

Microsoft Unveils New 365 Personal/Family Plans This Month

Microsoft rolled out its new Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions, to be available April 21. The plans, which will replace and enhance current Office 365 plans, are priced at $6.99 per month for Personal (one person) plans and $9.99 per month for Family (up to six people) plans. Both of the new plans include Office and access to a Microsoft Family Safety app and new features in Microsoft Teams for consumers, both of which will debut later this year. Other new features will continue to be unveiled over time. Continue reading Microsoft Unveils New 365 Personal/Family Plans This Month

Apple, Huawei Test Demand for New Phones in Tough Market

With the coronavirus in full force, Apple is one of many companies finding it challenging to predict consumer demand, even as it readies the release of its low-price iPhone model and 5G-enabled iPhones. Apple closed factories in China and its Silicon Valley headquarters as well as stores in Europe, impacting iPhone sales, which peaked in 2015. The new model was scheduled to debut this month but might be delayed; 5G phones are expected to unveil in September. Meanwhile, Huawei is also testing the demand for new flagship phones. Continue reading Apple, Huawei Test Demand for New Phones in Tough Market

Microsoft Reveals DirectX 12 Ultimate For Game Developers

Microsoft is debuting DirectX 12 Ultimate, giving developers access to the hardware features on the Xbox Series X and PC. As its next-gen DirectX gaming APIs for Xbox and Windows, DirectX 12 Ultimate enables several methods for improving performance and visuals and brings together Microsoft’s latest development and hardware features while retaining backward compatibility with older consoles and GPUs. Among the improvements are new capabilities for ray tracing, variable rate shading and sampler feedback. Continue reading Microsoft Reveals DirectX 12 Ultimate For Game Developers

Intel to Unveil Experimental Neuromorphic Computing System

Intel will debut Pohoiki Springs, an experimental research system for neuromorphic computing that simulates the way human brains work and computes more quickly and with less energy. It will first be made available, via the cloud, to the Intel Neuromorphic Research Community, which includes about a dozen companies (such as Accenture and Airbus), academic researchers and government labs. Intel and Cornell University jointly published a paper on the Loihi chip’s ability to learn and recognize 10 hazardous materials from smell. Continue reading Intel to Unveil Experimental Neuromorphic Computing System

Streaming Format GPEG Aims to Improve Gaming, Interactivity

Instant Interactive, a game-focused division of Primal Space Systems, is creating GPEG (Geometry Pump Engine Group), a “cousin of the MPEG format” and a different way of visualizing data. The parent company invested $8 million in the venture, aimed at game engines for more efficient streaming and interactivity for video entertainment. Primal Space Systems was co-founded by Barry Jenkins, a graphics expert; chief technology officer John Scott, formerly at Epic Games; and medical vision expert/chair Solomon Luo. Continue reading Streaming Format GPEG Aims to Improve Gaming, Interactivity

Manticore Games Launches Alpha Test for Development Tools

In 2016, Frederic Descamps and Jordan Maynard formed Manticore Games to build real-time experiences, adding a tool to quickly test out ideas and insert them into a game and enabling gamers to easily customize the experience with new items. Now they’ve turned those intuitive tools into a service, dubbed Core, currently in closed alpha testing. An open alpha test is expected “in the near future.” As a game creation tool and eventual marketplace, Core is intended to democratize game development. Continue reading Manticore Games Launches Alpha Test for Development Tools

E3 Joins Growing List of Canceled Media & Technology Events

The Entertainment Software Association announced that E3 2020, slated for June 9-11 in Los Angeles, has been canceled. “After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry — our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners — we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020,” explained ESA in a statement. “Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation.”  Continue reading E3 Joins Growing List of Canceled Media & Technology Events

Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

Read It is a new Google Assistant feature that reads web pages out loud in 42 languages. Accessible through browsers and Android smartphones, it is launched by saying “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page.” Users can adjust the reading speed, and the feature highlights words as they are read out loud. Buttons can be used to skip forward or backward in the text or pause the reading. Google also added native support for sensors in Google Assistant, and a special device type for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Continue reading Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

GSMA Report Predicts the Future Impact of Global 5G Rollout

The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), which represents 750 mobile operators as well as hundreds of other telecom industry companies, issued a report on 5G, finding it is now available in 24 markets around the world. The report predicts that 5G is likely to add nearly $2.2 trillion to the global economy between 2024 and 2034. Written by GSMA head of North America Ana Tavares Lattibeaudiere, the report added that, by 2025, 5G will account for 20 percent of all global connections. Continue reading GSMA Report Predicts the Future Impact of Global 5G Rollout

Microsoft Develops Scalable 2D-to-3D Conversion Technique

Transforming 2D objects into 3D ones is a challenge that has defeated numerous artificial intelligence labs, including those at Facebook, Nvidia and startup Threedy.ai. Now, a Microsoft Research team stated it has created the first “scalable” training technique to derive 3D models from 2D data. Their technology can, furthermore, learn to generate better shapes when trained exclusively with 2D images. The Microsoft team took advantage of software that produces images from display data, as featured in industrial renderers. Continue reading Microsoft Develops Scalable 2D-to-3D Conversion Technique

Ampere Debuts High-Performance 80-Core ARM-Based Chip

Ampere introduced the industry’s first-ever 80-core ARM-based 64-bit server processor — the Ampere Altra processor — for use in cloud and edge computing data centers. The move puts the company in direct competition with Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. Intel currently has 95.5 percent of the server chip market, with AMD taking the rest. The Ampere Altra, which runs on 210 watts, is aimed at artificial intelligence, cloud-native applications, data analytics, database, edge computing, storage, telco stacks and web hosting. Continue reading Ampere Debuts High-Performance 80-Core ARM-Based Chip