AI-Powered Movies in Progress, Writing Makes Major Strides

In the not-so-distant future there will likely be services that allow the user to choose plots, characters and locations that are then fed into an AI-powered transformer with the result of a fully customized movie. The idea of using generative artificial intelligence to create content goes back to 2015’s computer vision program DeepDream, thanks to Google engineer Alexander Mordvintsev. Bringing that fantasy closer to reality is the AI system GPT-3 that creates convincingly coherent and interactive writing, often fooling the experts. Continue reading AI-Powered Movies in Progress, Writing Makes Major Strides

Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Lance Podell of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services

For the latest installment in ETC’s Executive Spotlight series, we had a fascinating conversation with Lance Podell, senior vice president and general manager of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services (IMES), a leader in media archiving for the entertainment industry. IMES steers its film, music, broadcast and sports clients in media preservation, restoration and distribution. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Podell’s group has focused on safety and remote productivity while developing innovative methods for protecting assets and serving as an extension of its clients’ businesses. Iron Mountain has also created a “digital studio in a box” so that projects can stay on track during this challenging time. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Lance Podell of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services

Facebook Reveals New AI-Powered Text-to-Speech System

Facebook introduced an AI text-to-speech system (TTS) that produces a second of audio in 500 milliseconds. According to Facebook, the system, which is used with a new approach to data collection, powered the creation of a British accent-inflected voice in six months, versus over a year required for other voices. The TTS is now used for Facebook’s Portal smart display brand. The system can be hosted in real time via ordinary processors and is also available as a service for other apps, including Facebook’s VR. Continue reading Facebook Reveals New AI-Powered Text-to-Speech System

Pandemic Shutdown Leading to Major Shifts in E-Commerce

When the U.S. shut down in March, people went online to shop. Adobe’s Digital Economy Index reported that U.S. e-commerce skyrocketed 49 percent in April, compared to the baseline period in early March. Some e-commerce companies have become stronger during the shutdown. But buying patterns have been volatile, with the latest uptick sparked by government stimulus checks that were sent out April 11. Many experts believe that consumer habits are changing in ways that will continue beyond the threat of the coronavirus. Continue reading Pandemic Shutdown Leading to Major Shifts in E-Commerce

Executive Spotlight: Interview with Vubiquity’s Darcy Antonellis

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant operational changes as businesses adjust to new, often experimental or untested processes. ETC has taken this unprecedented time to interview executives from our member companies who generously agreed to share their experiences, information and ideas about how they are adapting to the crisis. The following is the first in a limited series to be published Tuesdays and Thursdays over the coming weeks. We begin with a conversation with Darcy Antonellis, division president of Amdocs Media and CEO of Vubiquity, an Amdocs Company. Vubiquity delivers premium content to viewers on any screen, device or platform. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: Interview with Vubiquity’s Darcy Antonellis

Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

As more companies ask employees to work from home due to the global spread of the coronavirus, Google, Microsoft and Zoom have responded by providing their workplace software for free. Microsoft’s Teams saw a 500 percent increase in meetings, calls and conference usage in China since the end of January, and demand is rising in the U.S. as work-from-home policies are instituted. Many Microsoft employees have been instructed to work from home and, last week, their Teams chat volume rose 50 percent, with video/audio meetings up 37 percent from a week earlier. Continue reading Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

HPA Tech Retreat: Immersive Audio Standards Ready For Use

Immersive audio standards are complete, said Sony Pictures Entertainment executive director of audio Brian Vessa, and now the task is to encourage widespread use. Immersive Audio Bitstream (IAB) is the interoperable system that allows one mix — the IAB DCP — to play back in multiple immersive sound systems in movie theaters. “For home entertainment, a single mix can be transcoded to multiple deliverables,” Vessa said. Most tentpole movies are already being mixed natively in immersive audio, he added. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Immersive Audio Standards Ready For Use

Researchers Create AI Technique to Generate Video Captions

Researchers at Microsoft Research Asia and the Harbin Institute of Technology have come up with a new technique to use artificial intelligence to generate live video captions. In the past, technologists have used encoder-decoder models, but didn’t model the interaction between videos and comments, resulting in mainly irrelevant comments. The new technique — based on a model that iteratively learns to capture the representations of audio, video and comments — outperforms current methods, according to the research team. Continue reading Researchers Create AI Technique to Generate Video Captions

Apple Researchers Improving Accuracy of Virtual Assistant

Over 50 million people worldwide use Apple’s virtual assistant Siri. Apple, focused on improving Siri’s capabilities, published research on how to improve voice trigger detection, speaker verification and language identification for multiple speakers. Apple researchers suggest that an AI model be trained for automatic speech recognition and speaker recognition. Rather than approach it as two independent tasks, the researchers proved that those tasks might actually help one another to “estimate both properties.” Continue reading Apple Researchers Improving Accuracy of Virtual Assistant

Spotify Plans to Run Targeted Ads in its Exclusive Podcasts

During CES 2020, Spotify revealed plans to leverage its massive amount of user data in order to introduce targeted advertising in its exclusive podcast content. With its proprietary Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) tech, Spotify will analyze data based on user location, type of device, gender, age and more to insert advertisements in real time (Spotify already automates dynamic ad insertion for its music streaming). The company could eventually become a major podcast ad network if it ends up placing ads in other networks’ content as well. Continue reading Spotify Plans to Run Targeted Ads in its Exclusive Podcasts

CES: Bluetooth SIG’s Low Energy Audio Slows Battery Drain

At CES 2020, the non-profit standards organization Bluetooth Special Interest Group announced that LE (Low Energy) Audio would be incorporated into its technology, improving a standard signal’s ability to manage and share wireless audio streams between devices — without stressing the batteries. In fact, since 2012, Bluetooth has incorporated LE features, dubbed Bluetooth Smart and BLE, to allow wearables and sensors to stay connected and minimize battery drain. But it has had no impact on wireless audio devices, which LE Audio hopes to remedy. Continue reading CES: Bluetooth SIG’s Low Energy Audio Slows Battery Drain

Variety of Real-Time Translation Devices Showcased at CES

Several translation gadgets made a showing at CES 2020, among them the Ambassador, released last November from Brooklyn-based Waverly Labs, an over-the-ear gadget aimed at travelers. Pocketalk is a translation device that’s popular in Japan and will soon arrive in the U.S. TranslateLive’s ILA Pro adds a subscription-based service for real-time translation. Langogo Minutes is a device that records up to seven hours of audio and provides written transcripts of what it hears. And the WT2 Plus from Timekettle is a multi-language translator in the form of earbuds. Continue reading Variety of Real-Time Translation Devices Showcased at CES

CES Features the Latest Advances in VR and AR Headsets

During CES we saw a number of VR and AR headsets that illustrate the emerging trends and most recent developments in this space. LetinAR showcased its PinMR optical solution with glasses that leverage 11 pinhole micromirrors per eye in order to deliver a clear and bright image. Panasonic demonstrated a prototype of its new VR headset with micro OLED 2,048 x 2,048 resolution, HDR and spatial audio. Human Capable presented its lightweight and affordable glasses expected to ship Q2 this year, while Pimax showed an updated tethered HMD with native 4K per eye display. And Nreal showed significant improvement to the brightness of its AR display. Continue reading CES Features the Latest Advances in VR and AR Headsets

CES: Dolby Ramps Up HDR Home Viewing With Vision IQ

At CES 2020, Dolby took its Dolby Vision HDR system up a notch with Dolby Vision IQ, which ensures its HDR settings work for a variety of content, including action sports, feature films and documentaries, and different viewing environments. TV shows and films in 4K HDR are often calibrated for a darkened theater (or living room). But viewers watching video at home in brighter settings found the images were too dark. With Dolby Vision IQ, the Dolby Vision HDR system is automatically adjusted to the room’s brightness. Continue reading CES: Dolby Ramps Up HDR Home Viewing With Vision IQ

CES: Developer Finally Launches the Pimax 8K X Headset

Chinese developer Pimax first announced an 8K VR headset in 2017, but missed its initial 2018 release date. At CES 2020, the company made good with the launch of the Pimax 8K X, tapped by Digital Trends as its AR/VR top trends winner. The Pimax 8K X headset offers 8K resolution and a 200-degree field of view, beyond the specifications of Oculus Quest and the Valve Index. Reviewers have noted that the 8K resolution makes a “noticeable different in image sharpness,” including “crystal clear” fine text and other details. Continue reading CES: Developer Finally Launches the Pimax 8K X Headset

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