Facebook Unveils New Video Devices and Portal for Business

With COVID-19 continuing to drive the popularity of video chatting, Facebook is doubling down with new iterations of its Portal devices that includes the battery-powered Portal Go and a new Portal+ along with the announcement of Portal for Business, a service that will make it possible for small and mid-size businesses to purchase, deploy and remotely manage Portal devices for employees. Facebook’s Portal devices, which debuted in 2018, compete with Amazon’s Echo Show and Google’s Nest Hub products for the home. The recommitment indicates Facebook believes video calling is here to stay. Continue reading Facebook Unveils New Video Devices and Portal for Business

CES: Panasonic Debuts New OLED TV with Surround Sound

Panasonic unveiled its flagship JZ2000 OLED TV, following last year’s HZ2000 4K OLED TV. Both feature support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+ but the JZ2000 now supports “ambient-aware” versions of both formats — Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Ambient — which adjust HDR brightness in response to light levels around the TV, especially useful for daytime viewing. The Panasonic JZ2000 also features 360° Soundscape Pro, which supports side-firing speakers for Dolby Atmos, resulting in better support of multidirectional sound. Continue reading CES: Panasonic Debuts New OLED TV with Surround Sound

CES: LG Unveils Evo OLED Display with Improved Brightness

During CES 2021, LG Electronics introduced Evo, its high-end OLED TV that features greatly improved light output. OLED TVs offer superior picture quality to LCD TVs, as each pixel can turn on and turn off its own light. But OLED TVs offer half that of the brightest LCD TVs, hobbling the overall picture quality. This year, LG’s Evo and Sony’s new OLED TVs offer more brightness. In addition to LG, only Sony and Vizio sell OLED TVs, all produced by LG Display. During CES, LG also showcased new QNED Mini LED and NanoCell TV models. Continue reading CES: LG Unveils Evo OLED Display with Improved Brightness

Sony’s Cognitive Processor Tech Comes to Next-Gen TV Sets

Sony Electronics debuted the Cognitive Processor XR, a new type of image processor that will be incorporated in its new Bravia XR LED and OLED TVs. According to Sony Electronics president and chief executive Mike Fasulo, the new processor surveys the entire frame in real time, breaking down specific zones to concentrate on — such as realistic skin tone — as a way to mimic how our brains process images. Sony global display and processor expert Kazuo Kii says the Cognitive Processor XR will aid the TVs’ 8K performance. Continue reading Sony’s Cognitive Processor Tech Comes to Next-Gen TV Sets

BBC Partners with Microsoft to Release Beeb Voice Assistant

The BBC partnered with Microsoft to release an early version of Beeb, its digital voice assistant. Its U.K. debut will be part of Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program to encourage users to help improve Beeb prior to a wider rollout. The BBC first announced Beeb last year, noting that the aim was to integrate voice services into all its products. The public broadcaster will collect data by requiring users to log in to Beeb with their BBC accounts but such data will not be used for targeted ads. Continue reading BBC Partners with Microsoft to Release Beeb Voice Assistant

Sonos Rolls Out Radio Channels for Smart Speaker Owners

Sonos just debuted ad-supported Sonos Radio, which splits offerings into three categories: Sonos Presents, which is curated music and original programming; Sonos Stations, a collection of 30 genre-based music listening stations; and Local Radio, which lists thousands of streaming radio options. Napster streams the music for the first two options. Sonos director of business development Ryan Taylor noted that Sonos is experiencing a “New Year’s Eve-level of engagement” during the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading Sonos Rolls Out Radio Channels for Smart Speaker Owners

CES 2020: Holiday Smart Lights Have Multiple Applications

The Internet of Things is about to offer middle America a new creative outlet. Italian startup LEDWORKS produces strings of individually addressable LED Christmas tree lights. Twinkly’s phone app maps the location of each individual light: one camera scan to map lights arrayed on a flat surface and two or three camera scans to map the lights arrayed around a 3D object like a Christmas tree or a wall outside. The app can then wirelessly load a program into the lights’ plug to display preset patterns and images or, if you are clever, patterns of your design. The current app can control up to 10,000 lights. By the end of 2020, Twinkly should be able to control 20,000 lights. Continue reading CES 2020: Holiday Smart Lights Have Multiple Applications

LG to Launch 8K TVs, Rollable 65-Inch TV at CES This Week

In advance of CES 2020, LG has alluded to its new TV line-up of eight models, all of which will feature “Real 8K,” reportedly exceeding CTA’s 8K spec. More specifically, LG’s sets will surpass a minimum test for Contrast Modulation threshold requirements. The sets will be able to handle HEVC and VP9, 8K inputs from USB or HDMI, YouTube’s preferred AV1 codec, and 8K 60fps via streaming and HDMI. LG Display will also show off its latest flexible display, the 65-inch UHD OLED TV that unwinds from the ceiling. Continue reading LG to Launch 8K TVs, Rollable 65-Inch TV at CES This Week

The Dark Side of Big Tech’s Accumulation of Power, Wealth

Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are valued together at $4+ trillion, with the six surviving founders of four of these companies worth $450 billion, noted Forbes, adding that these valuations have quintupled since 2009. The technology coming out of these companies has also been powerful, from smartphones to ride-sharing. Currently, tech accounts for seven of the top 10 worldwide companies by market cap. This wealth accumulation hasn’t been seen since Standard Oil at the turn of the 20th Century. Continue reading The Dark Side of Big Tech’s Accumulation of Power, Wealth

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

Netflix, Doppio Games Create Voice-Controlled ‘3%’ Prequel

Doppio Games and Netflix, teaming up with Rio Games, created multiplayer game “The 3% Challenge,” a prequel to Netflix’s original Brazilian series “3%,” through a partnership to create voice-controlled games and other entertainment. The free-to-play game launched on Amazon Alexa and will appear later this week on Google Assistant, in English and Portuguese. Although Netflix’s core strengths are TV series, feature films and documentaries, it has been moving into games, including “Stranger Things 3: The Game” and “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” Continue reading Netflix, Doppio Games Create Voice-Controlled ‘3%’ Prequel

Survey Reveals Consumer Attitudes Regarding IoT Devices

ADT teamed with technology publications including Digital Trends, CNET and Engadget to survey how consumers feel about smart technology and, more specifically, smart homes. The results are complex but pointed towards a growing interest in and support of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. That aligns with other evidence that the IoT market is expected to also grow; by 2023, the smart home market worldwide is predicted to reach $150+ billion. The U.S. leads, with 45+ million smart devices already installed in homes. Continue reading Survey Reveals Consumer Attitudes Regarding IoT Devices

X2 Games Integrates Alexa to Update Board Game Format

X2 Games released “St. Noire,” an AI murder mystery board game that integrates Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. “St. Noire” ($40 on Amazon) lets players become private eyes and explore the eponymous, shady town to determine the culprit in a recent murder. Players ask Alexa to “examine” locations such as Black Saint Bar or Greasy Spoon, or to pretend to be a suspect during interrogation. The game, which requires the use of Alexa, is similar to the board game “Clue” in that it evolves by the process of elimination to determine the specifics of each crime. Continue reading X2 Games Integrates Alexa to Update Board Game Format

Two Facebook Groups Are Developing New Voice Assistant

Social giant Facebook confirmed a report that it is working on developing its own voice assistant. Originally, two former Facebook employees described the plans to CNBC, which broke the news. The company has been developing its own voice assistant since early 2018 in its augmented reality/virtual reality group based in Redmond, Washington. Facebook Assistant and AR/VR director Ira Snyder leads a team that has been “contacting vendors in the smart speaker supply chain,” according to sources. Continue reading Two Facebook Groups Are Developing New Voice Assistant

Digital Content NewFronts West Reveals Advertising Trends

At the Digital Content NewFronts West marketing event, October 9-10 in Los Angeles, premium content producers demonstrated how they are trying to attract and maintain viewers. In addition to offering podcasts, shoppable videos and smart speakers, producers are moving away from ads that interrupt programming, mainly because viewers simply won’t tolerate commercials, not even 30-second pre-rolls. A study revealed that those viewers who do watch mainly ad-supported OTT video are younger and typically earn higher income. Continue reading Digital Content NewFronts West Reveals Advertising Trends