Already Internet Celebs, Virtual Beings Get First Emmy Nod

Fable Studio’s “Wolves in the Walls,” a VR adaptation of a Neil Gaiman children’s book, won a Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding innovation in interactive media. The player is in the role of an imaginary friend for the CG child Lucy and uses VR goggles and handheld motion controllers to join her on an investigation of strange noises in the house. Lucy is also the first “virtual being” to win an Emmy, according to Fable co-founder Edward Saatchi, who defines that as a digital character with whom you have a two-way relationship. Virtual beings are growing in popularity on social platforms such as Instagram, where some are becoming digital influencers. Continue reading Already Internet Celebs, Virtual Beings Get First Emmy Nod

Cerebras Builds Enormous Chip to Advance Deep Learning

Los Altos, CA-based startup Cerebras, dedicated to advancing deep learning, has created a computer chip almost nine inches (22 centimeters) on each side — huge by the standards of today’s chips, which are typically the size of postage stamps or smaller. The company plans to offer this chip to tech companies to help them improve artificial intelligence at a faster clip. The Cerebras Wafer-Scale Engine (WSE), which took three years to develop, has impressive stats: 1.2 trillion transistors, 46,225 square millimeters, 18 gigabytes of on-chip memory and 400,000 processing cores. Continue reading Cerebras Builds Enormous Chip to Advance Deep Learning

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

Google Open-Sources Real-Time Gesture Recognition Tech

Google relied on computer vision and machine learning to research a better way to perceive hand shapes and motions in real-time, for use in gesture control systems, sign language recognition and augmented reality. The result is the ability to infer up to 21 3D points of a hand (or hands) on a mobile phone from a single frame. Google, which demonstrated the technique at the 2019 Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, also put the source code and a complete use case scenario on GitHub. Continue reading Google Open-Sources Real-Time Gesture Recognition Tech

SoftBank to Lend Employees $20B to Invest in Vision Fund

SoftBank Group plans to lend up to $20 billion to its 400 employees to buy stakes in its second Vision Fund, following the first fund launched in 2017. That first $100 billion fund, which debuted in 2017, made big investments in Uber Technologies, WeWork, and Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing Technology, driving up their valuations. For the second Vision Fund, SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son may invest as much as $15 billion, and SoftBank could put in $38 billion, more than is typical for a fund sponsor. Continue reading SoftBank to Lend Employees $20B to Invest in Vision Fund

Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

A bipartisan group of Congress members castigated Facebook for hiring contractors to transcribe audio clips and urged regulation to prevent it in the future. The transcriptions were made to help Facebook improve its artificial intelligence-enabled speech recognition, and are part of a move to improve the capabilities of voice assistants (Amazon, Apple and Google are among companies that have taken similar approaches). Last year, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) circulated a draft law that would impose steep fines and even prison for executives who failed to protect users’ personal data. Continue reading Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

Cable Provider Altice Plans Fall Launch For Smart Speaker

New York-based cable provider Altice USA, parent company to Optimum and Suddenlink, plans to launch a high-fidelity smart speaker this fall that features audio tech from French company Devialet. The $400 Altice Amplify will come with Alexa built-in for hands-free control of TV functions. The speaker, to be available through Altice’s cable stores and Amazon.com, will feature access to streaming apps on the Altice One cable system such as Netflix, Pandora and YouTube. Altice Amplify will work with additional TV systems and streaming devices and support apps including Amazon Music, Apple Music, Audible, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Tidal and TuneIn. Continue reading Cable Provider Altice Plans Fall Launch For Smart Speaker

Adobe Develops AR Software, Mixed Reality Display Tech

Adobe plans to release three apps — Aero, Fresco and Photoshop for the iPad — that focus on mixing physical elements with digital ones. The apps will allow users to switch back and forth easily between mobile and desktop devices and are cloud-native, enabling easy collaboration. The company’s chief technology officer Abhay Parasnis also recently showcased Project Glasswing, a mixed reality display prototype that will bring all the apps’ features as Photoshop or After Effects layers on a transparent screen in front of real 3D objects. Continue reading Adobe Develops AR Software, Mixed Reality Display Tech

ETC’s Spring/Summer Newsletter Is Now Available Online

The Entertainment Technology Center’s latest newsletter is currently posted online with updates to new and ongoing projects. Among the key announcements: ETC recently held its Studio Technology Leaders Dinner at USC’s Town & Gown. During the event, Ken Williams announced that Michael Wise of Universal has been named the new ETC Executive Board chairman. Additionally, ETC presented Leon Silverman of Netflix with the Bob Lambert Technology Leadership award. ETC selected four projects to continue with the development phase of its inaugural Immersive Media Challenge, and during a recent All Members Meeting, USC students discussed their opinions about media consumption. Visit the newsletter to read more about these topics and updates to ETC projects involving 5G, AI, adaptive production, quantum computing, archiving and preservation, production in the cloud, and more. Continue reading ETC’s Spring/Summer Newsletter Is Now Available Online

ETC Virtual Conference: Call for Speakers Deadline Aug. 9

The Entertainment Technology Center at The University of Southern California (ETC) will produce “vETC | The Grand Convergence 2019: Innovation and Integration,” its 5th annual virtual conference, August 27-28, 2019, in Los Angeles, highlighting significant presentations of emerging technologies and their impact on the M&E industry. The presentations will be recorded and posted to our YouTube channel. The Initial Expression of Interest seeking speakers and topics is open through Friday, August 9. Specific areas of concentration include 5G, AI, machine learning, adaptive production, blockchain, immersive media, virtual beings, and streaming. We welcome additional topics. Speakers will present concepts, workflows, business models, case studies, etc. Please no sales pitches! If you are interested in consideration, click here for more information. Continue reading ETC Virtual Conference: Call for Speakers Deadline Aug. 9

ETC Virtual Conference: Call for Speakers Deadline Aug. 9

The Entertainment Technology Center at The University of Southern California (ETC) will produce “vETC | The Grand Convergence 2019: Innovation and Integration,” its 5th annual virtual conference, August 27-28, 2019, in Los Angeles, highlighting significant presentations of emerging technologies and their impact on the M&E industry. The presentations will be recorded and posted to our YouTube channel. The Initial Expression of Interest seeking speakers and topics is open through Friday, August 9. Specific areas of concentration include 5G, AI, machine learning, adaptive production, blockchain, immersive media, virtual beings, and streaming. We welcome additional topics. Speakers will present concepts, workflows, business models, case studies, etc. Please no sales pitches! If you are interested in consideration, click here for more information. Continue reading ETC Virtual Conference: Call for Speakers Deadline Aug. 9

Google’s Cloud Platform Updates Focus on Security Issues

During its Cloud Next 2019 developer conference, Google revealed its Advanced Protection Program would be widely released and Titan Security Keys will be more readily available in retail. The former, which is intended to prevent cyberattacks against high profile targets such as politicians and business leaders, will debut in beta for G Suite, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Cloud Identity customers. The Advanced Protection Program “enforces the use” of the Titan Security Key or compatible third-party hardware, blocking access to third-party accounts not approved by admin. Continue reading Google’s Cloud Platform Updates Focus on Security Issues

ETC Virtual Conference: Call for Speakers Deadline Aug. 9

The Entertainment Technology Center at The University of Southern California (ETC) will produce “vETC | The Grand Convergence 2019: Innovation and Integration,” its 5th annual virtual conference, August 27-28, 2019, in Los Angeles, highlighting significant presentations of emerging technologies and their impact on the M&E industry. The presentations will be recorded and posted to our YouTube channel. The Initial Expression of Interest seeking speakers and topics is open through Friday, August 9. Specific areas of concentration include 5G, AI, machine learning, adaptive production, blockchain, immersive media, virtual beings, and streaming. We welcome additional topics. Speakers will present concepts, workflows, business models, case studies, etc. Please no sales pitches! If you are interested in consideration, click here for more information. Continue reading ETC Virtual Conference: Call for Speakers Deadline Aug. 9

SoftBank Debuts Vision Fund 2, Focused on AI Investment

SoftBank Group changed technology venture capital when it launched the Vision Fund in May 2017, by setting $100 million as the minimum investment. Since then, the Vision Fund, which raised almost $100 billion, has invested in Uber Technologies, Didi Chuxing Technology and other startups. Now, the Japanese company is debuting Vision Fund 2 and jumpstarting it with its own $38 billion investment. The fund, which will focus on artificial intelligence, has already drawn investment commitments from Apple and Microsoft. Continue reading SoftBank Debuts Vision Fund 2, Focused on AI Investment

AWE Nite LA: Immersive Technologies & the 2020 Election

The impact of social media and the Internet on today’s political arena is undeniable, but how will the emerging world of deep fakes, virtual influencers and augmented technologies tip the scales in 2020? During an AWE Nite LA meetup this week at the Phase Two co-working space in Los Angeles, the ETC’s Phil Lelyveld moderated a panel on the impact of emerging technologies on the 2020 presidential election. Panelists included machine learning expert Stanley Bishop, journalism professor Robert Hernandez, filmmaker and Artie founder Armando Kirwin, and bot creator Sally Slade. Continue reading AWE Nite LA: Immersive Technologies & the 2020 Election

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