The State of AI in Media & Entertainment: Pedal to the Metal

As the world turns its sights on the “new normal,” the future of the media and entertainment industry is starting to come into focus. Cloud-based everything. Internet of Production. Digital distribution. Automation. Truth is, most of these changes were already in progress. It’s the timeline that has been dramatically shortened: 5-year plans now have to be implemented in 5 months. And among the handful of technologies being fast-tracked, artificial intelligence holds a special place because of its ability to solve two of the industry’s most pressing post-COVID challenges: (1) how to better manage its inherent product risk, and (2) protect and optimize its precious financial, human and technological resources. Continue reading The State of AI in Media & Entertainment: Pedal to the Metal

Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

Spotify, reporting its Q4 results, revealed that it now has 271 million subscribers, up 31 percent from a year ago, with paying subscribers up 29 percent to 125 million. The company’s overall revenue reached $2 billion, up 24 percent from the previous year, with a gross margin of 25.6 percent. Spotify is still posting operating losses, with Q4’s pegged at $85 million, with its loss per share now at $1.26. Spotify also acquired Bill Simmons’ sports and pop culture website and podcasting network The Ringer. Continue reading Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

Microsoft Bets on Internet of Things, Ends Xbox TV Feature

Although many observers would name Microsoft’s Xbox as the tech company’s biggest hardware business, chief executive Satya Nadella instead points to the company’s cloud. In fact, Microsoft is building an entire cloud infrastructure from data centers to servers and network stack. Nadella said that he doesn’t want the company to be defined “by what we achieved.” He pointed to the Internet of Things about to emerge. “We look at if there’s going to be 50 billion endpoints,” he said. “Let’s go … and define a strategy for that.” Continue reading Microsoft Bets on Internet of Things, Ends Xbox TV Feature

CES 2020: Early Days of AI Assistants Challenge Adoption

Moderated by Digital Trends editor-in-chief Jeremy Kaplan, a CES panel of three experts discussed the evolution of digital assistants, embedded both in devices and humanoid robots. Front Porch president Kari Olson, who is also chief innovation & technology officer, noted that, “at this point in time, we’re all toddlers” when it comes to our understanding of how to interact with digital assistants. Her company has created “possibility rooms” that enable consumers to test out devices embedded with AI assistants. Continue reading CES 2020: Early Days of AI Assistants Challenge Adoption

Amazon Licenses Original Interactive Audio Series for Alexa

Amazon has inked an exclusive license for “Tala’s World,” a seven-episode young adult adventure series produced by audio startup Xandra, which has produced Alexa skills for HBO, Sesame Workshop and Ubisoft. In the new adventure series, listeners help elf-like character Blobby find his missing best friend Tala by making decisions, collecting clues, and interrogating suspects. Available exclusively on Alexa, Amazon recently released the first episode and plans to release the second episode on December 13. Continue reading Amazon Licenses Original Interactive Audio Series for Alexa

The Human Interface: What We Expect From AI at CES 2020

We’re not going to lie: the annual “heads up CES” piece on artificial intelligence is a major exercise in hit or miss. This is because technology rarely evolves on an annual time scale, and certainly not advanced technology like AI. Yet, here we are once again. Sure, 2019 was as fruitful as it gets in the AI research community. The raw debate between Neural Networks Extremists (those pushing for an “all neural nets all the time” approach to intelligence) and the Fanatical Symbolists (those advocating a more hybrid approach between knowledge bases, expert systems and neural nets) took an ugly “Mean Girl” turn, with two of the titans of the field (Gary Marcus and Yann LeCun) trading real insults on Twitter just a few days ago.  Continue reading The Human Interface: What We Expect From AI at CES 2020

AWS Previews Alexa Voice Integration For More IoT Devices

At its annual AWS re:Invent conference, Amazon previewed some new products for its cloud platform, Amazon Web Services, most of which related to the Internet of Things, a market expected to be valued at $212 billion by the end of 2019. It’s a natural fit, since, according to a 2018 survey by the Eclipse Foundation, AWS is the most popular cloud platform for IoT developers, growing from 21 percent in 2017 to 51.8 percent today. In comparison, Microsoft Azure’s share is 31.21 percent today, up from 17 percent in 2017. Continue reading AWS Previews Alexa Voice Integration For More IoT Devices

Big Tech Companies Make Progress on AR Smart Glasses

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Magic Leap, Microsoft and Snap are among the Big Tech companies working on creating smart glasses that we can wear everywhere — and that may even replace our smartphones. Currently, glasses are too big (and expensive), but in time are expected to achieve a sleeker form factor and come down in price. Smart glasses promise to dramatically shift how we engage with the world, and some advocates believe we will eventually be able to replace every screen we use with a single pair of glasses. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Make Progress on AR Smart Glasses

Princeton Study Shows Smart TVs Are Collecting Your Data

While streaming your favorite show on Netflix via an Internet-connected smart TV, your data is being collected, according to a new study from Princeton University, which found that smart TVs are equipped with data-collecting trackers. Researchers built a bot that installed thousands of channels on both Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices and mimicked human behaviors like watching videos and browsing. When the bot ran into an ad, it tracked what data was collected. Researchers claim there’s little consumer awareness of this activity.

Continue reading Princeton Study Shows Smart TVs Are Collecting Your Data

Amazon Unveils New IoT Devices for On-the-Go Consumers

Amazon is strategically moving its Alexa digital voice assistant into a wide range of products, for use in many settings. Among the newly introduced smart products powered by Alexa are earbuds, a ring, eyeglass frames and even a lamp. The idea, said Amazon hardware head Dave Limp, is to allow Alexa to follow the consumer throughout her day, via such smart lifestyle devices. To enable this, Amazon also debuted its own low bandwidth 900MHz network, Amazon Sidewalk, to connect Internet of Things devices. Continue reading Amazon Unveils New IoT Devices for On-the-Go Consumers

Amazon Forms Coalition for Voice Assistant Interoperability

Amazon created the Voice Interoperability Initiative to achieve software compatibility among digital voice assistants, encouraging its widespread adoption. Although 36 companies have joined the initiative, Apple and Google have not. Their absence is a significant impediment to the initiative’s goals, since Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant software are installed by default in most of today’s smartphones. Amazon’s Alexa, meanwhile, has no presence on smartphones, although its Echo speakers are a hit with consumers. Continue reading Amazon Forms Coalition for Voice Assistant Interoperability

Food Network App to Offer Live Interactive Cooking Classes

In partnership with Amazon, Discovery Inc. is introducing a video-streaming app in late October called Food Network Kitchen. The new app will feature on-demand programming, recipe videos, interactive classes and Alexa support. For $6.99 per month (or $59.99 annually), subscribers will be provided the opportunity to attend up to 25 live, interactive cooking classes each week led by celebrity chefs such as Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, Ina Garten and Martha Stewart. “It’s our mission to delight, inspire and, of course, teach our millions of viewers everything we know about food and cooking,” explains Food Network. Continue reading Food Network App to Offer Live Interactive Cooking Classes

Facebook Announces Three New AI-Powered Portal Devices

Facebook is introducing three Portal models, starting at $129, a more competitive price than previous models. Two offer a smart display with screen, camera and microphone, and the third can turn a TV into a venue for video chat. The first Portal offered AI-enabled tracking that kept all the participants in the frame and could follow a single person. The AI has been upgraded to provide more accuracy. Although the company “paused” human review of audio, it will resume the practice for some Portal audio. Continue reading Facebook Announces Three New AI-Powered Portal Devices

Amazon, Apple Research How to Improve Digital Assistants

Apple researchers investigated what people really want in a digital assistant, finding that people deem an assistant “likeable” and “trustworthy” when it mirrored their own degree of chattiness. It also found that the features that make up mirroring can be extracted from the user’s speech patterns. Amazon researchers conducted a project that found Alexa can figure out what a user wants via so-called dialogue state tracking, in which it estimates and keeps tabs on a person’s goals throughout a conversation. Continue reading Amazon, Apple Research How to Improve Digital Assistants

GM to Feature Google Apps and Voice Assistant in Vehicles

General Motors, the largest U.S. automaker by sales, plans to build Google’s apps into its vehicles’ touchscreen displays. Beginning with model year 2022, GM brands Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC will feature Google Maps, Google Assistant and the Google Play app store, accessible on the vehicles’ dashboard displays. Today’s car buyers have expressed interest in an experience similar to what is available with their mobile devices, but not all automobile integration has proven satisfying. The automaker aims to create a more positive experience, with plans to eventually make infotainment systems powered by Android available on millions of its vehicles sold worldwide. Continue reading GM to Feature Google Apps and Voice Assistant in Vehicles

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