Inworld Raises $50M to Create AI-Powered Virtual Characters

Virtual character developer platform Inworld AI has raised $50 million in a Series A funding round led by Section 32 and Intel Capital. The Mountain View-based startup — one of six companies chosen to participate in the 2022 Disney Accelerator — will create virtual characters for games, the metaverse and other entertainment and marketing applications. Because it is focused on providing an interior life, or “mind,” Inworld AI is platform agnostic, with APIs that work across Unity, Unreal Engine, Omniverse and others. Another convenient feature: it lets developers build characters by describing them in natural language. Continue reading Inworld Raises $50M to Create AI-Powered Virtual Characters

AWS Private 5G Lets Firms Build Their Own Mobile Networks

Amazon’s AWS cloud division has launched a new service designed to help companies deploy their own 5G networks. AWS Private 5G is initially available to AWS customers in select U.S. regions, including Ohio, Virginia and Oregon, but the company has plans to expand, including internationally, “in the near future.” Another early launch limitation is that despite its name, the service only currently supports 4G LTE, but plans to support 5G in the future, and either one will “give you a consistent, predictable level of throughput with ultra low latency,” AWS evangelist Jeff Barr said in a blog post. Continue reading AWS Private 5G Lets Firms Build Their Own Mobile Networks

Google Delays Alternative to Cookies for Its Chrome Browser

Google is delaying plans to phase out third-party ad tracking cookies on its Chrome browser until late 2024. The move will have broad ramifications as to how ads are targeted on websites. The Alphabet unit has been working under its Privacy Sandbox initiative since 2019 to find less intrusive alternatives to cookie-tracking technology. Google has been working with developers, publishers, marketers, regulators and advertisers to test its cookie alternative, and says feedback indicates more time is needed to test and evaluate the Privacy Sandbox before it’s phased-in to Chrome worldwide. Continue reading Google Delays Alternative to Cookies for Its Chrome Browser

Google Is the First Paying Customer of Wikimedia Enterprise

Wikimedia Enterprise has announced Google and the Internet Archive as its first customers. The Wikimedia Foundation launched the enterprise unit last year as a paid service for clients that source and reuse Wikipedia data at high volume. Google has been using Wikipedia content to fuel its search engine results. Wikimedia Enterprise clients have access to custom APIs that allow it to scrape and utilize data more efficiently and at greater scale. The service also provides guaranteed uptime and real-time content updates, minimizing outdated or inaccurate information. Continue reading Google Is the First Paying Customer of Wikimedia Enterprise

Meta Implements Broad Rollout of Reels APIs for Developers

Meta Platforms is expanding the scope of its Instagram Reels APIs for developers. The move follows Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s comment that the Reels short-form video feature “is our fastest growing content format by far” in a February blog post that announced the global rollout of Facebook Reels. In its Q1 earnings report, Meta said that the Reels feature accounts for more than 20 percent of user time on Instagram. Meta is now making Instagram Reels APIs available to third-party platforms, increasing the options for brands that post Instagram Reels to their accounts. Continue reading Meta Implements Broad Rollout of Reels APIs for Developers

Researchers Discover Malware on Apps in Google Play Store

Google has removed dozens of apps from the Google Play Store after finding they were harvesting data from millions of Android phones. The spyware creator, Panama’s  Measurement Systems S. de R.L., has been linked with a Virginia defense contractor that has done work for U.S. national-security agencies in the areas of cyberintelligence, network defense and intelligence intercepts. Researchers found the errant code embedded in apps for Muslim prayers, speed-trap detection, QR-code reading and other popular consumer programs that have been downloaded more than 10 million times. Continue reading Researchers Discover Malware on Apps in Google Play Store

Advances by OpenAI and DeepMind Boost AI Language Skills

Advances in language comprehension for artificial intelligence are issuing from San Francisco’s OpenAI and London-based DeepMind. OpenAI, which has been working on large language models, says it now lets customers fine-tune its GPT-3 models using their own custom data, while the Alphabet-owned DeepMind is talking-up Gopher, a 280-billion parameter deep-learning language model that has scored impressively on tests. Sophisticated language models have the ability to comprehend natural language, as well as predict and generate text, requirements for creating advanced AI systems that can dispense information and advice or that are required to follow instructions. Continue reading Advances by OpenAI and DeepMind Boost AI Language Skills

Developers to Build Widgets and Skill Cards for Alexa Devices

Amazon stated that it would allow third-party developers to create widgets for its Alexa devices, or what it said will be “rich, customizable, glanceable, self-updating views of skill content.” It won’t be an advertising service, according to Amazon Alexa Skills vice president Aaron Rubenson, but users will see personalized results based on the signals they send Alexa. Comedy Central will be one of the first featured skill cards. Amazon also announced that most Echo smart speakers will support the Matter open standard for smart home devices. Continue reading Developers to Build Widgets and Skill Cards for Alexa Devices

Shopify Cuts App Store Fees and Introduces Online Store 2.0

Amazon rival Shopify, which hosts online stores, announced it would no longer take a cut of the first $1 million that a developer makes on its app store. This follows similar moves by Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft that reduce app store fees for some developers, as the Big Tech companies are scrutinized by regulators and lawmakers over potential anticompetitive behavior. From August 1, developers on Shopify will keep 100 percent of their revenue from their first $1 million; the company said the benchmark will “reset” each year. Continue reading Shopify Cuts App Store Fees and Introduces Online Store 2.0

Supreme Court: Google Engaged in Fair Use of Java Code

In a 6-2 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court took Google’s side in a copyright battle with Oracle over the former’s use of Java APIs in its Android operating system. Oracle, which had purchased Java in 2010 when it bought Sun Microsystems, sought billions of dollars in damages for what it claimed was copyright infringement. Google argued that free access to the Java software interfaces was important to innovation. Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said that Google made “fair use” of the Java code. Continue reading Supreme Court: Google Engaged in Fair Use of Java Code

Study Suggests Deepfakes Fool Top Facial Recognition Tech

Deepfakes, in which a person in a video is swapped for another person via AI-enabled tools, are on the rise. Deeptrace reported that, between October 2019 and June 2020, the number of deepfakes on the Internet jumped 330 percent, reaching 50,000 at the peak. Deepfakes have been used to place celebrities in embarrassing and inappropriate content, defraud a major energy producer and many other disruptive or criminal uses. Tools to create deepfakes are readily available, and a recent study said deepfakes can reliably fool commercial facial recognition services. Continue reading Study Suggests Deepfakes Fool Top Facial Recognition Tech

Lawsuits Against Facebook Also Target Data Sharing via APIs

This week, the Federal Trade Commission and 46 state attorneys general filed lawsuits against Facebook for anticompetitive practices. But it is also looking at how Facebook leveraged user data to both lure and control third party developers, relying heavily on data sharing via application programming interfaces (APIs). MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy director Sinan Aral noted that the upcoming cases could set a precedent for any platform that shares data via an API and has conditions on that data sharing.

Continue reading Lawsuits Against Facebook Also Target Data Sharing via APIs

Nvidia Cuts Video-Conferencing Bandwidth by Factor of Ten

Last month Nvidia launched Maxine, a software development kit containing technology the company claims will cut the bandwidth requirements of video-conferencing software by a factor of ten. A neural network creates a compressed version of a person’s face which, when sent across the network, is decompressed by a second neural network. The software can also make helpful corrections to the image, such as rotating a face to look straight forward or replacing it with a digital avatar. Nvidia is now waiting for software developers to productize the technology. Continue reading Nvidia Cuts Video-Conferencing Bandwidth by Factor of Ten

REMINDER: Virtual Production Webinar Slated for This Week

The next ETC Digital Town Square — Breaking Down “Ripple Effect”: A Case Study on COVID-19 Safety Protocols, Advanced Workflows and Virtual Production — will be hosted by Equinix and the Entertainment Technology Center@USC on November 19, 1:00-3:30 pm PST. Free and open to the public, the webinar will dive into “Ripple Effect,” a recent live-action short produced by ETC that leveraged Safetyviz as well as remote and virtual production to improve safety in the return to media production. Register today for your virtual front row seat to this important webinar. Continue reading REMINDER: Virtual Production Webinar Slated for This Week

Ripple Effect: Webinar Covers Virtual Production Case Study

The next ETC Digital Town Square — Breaking Down “Ripple Effect”: A Case Study on COVID-19 Safety Protocols, Advanced Workflows and Virtual Production — will be hosted by Equinix and the Entertainment Technology Center@USC on November 19, 1:00-3:30 pm PST. Free and open to the public, the webinar will dive into “Ripple Effect,” a recent live-action short produced by ETC that leveraged Safetyviz as well as remote and virtual production to improve safety in the return to media production. Register today for your virtual front row seat to this important webinar. Continue reading Ripple Effect: Webinar Covers Virtual Production Case Study