CES: Daimler, Cameron Unveil Avatar-Inspired Concept Car

At Daimler’s keynote address at CES 2020, filmmaker James Cameron unveiled concept art, including Pandora’s future world, for his upcoming feature “Avatar 2,” sequel to his 2009 sci-fi blockbuster. On stage, he joined Daimler AG chair Ola Källenius, who introduced a Mercedes-Benz, dubbed Vision AVTR, inspired by “Avatar” and designed in collaboration with Cameron. The two described their design work, which includes many sustainability features. Disney is slated to release “Avatar 2” on December 17, 2021, with three more “Avatar” films in 2023, 2025 and 2027. Continue reading CES: Daimler, Cameron Unveil Avatar-Inspired Concept Car

Federal Agency Reveals Bias in Facial Recognition Systems

The National Institute of Standards and Technology reported that most commercially available facial recognition systems — often used by police departments and federal agencies — are biased. The highest error rate involved Native American faces, but African-American and Asian faces were incorrectly identified 10 to 100 times more than Caucasian faces. The systems also had more difficulty identifying female faces and falsely identified older people up to 10 times more than middle-aged adults. Continue reading Federal Agency Reveals Bias in Facial Recognition Systems

CES: Expectations for the Immersive Experience Landscape

When CES 2020 opens on January 7th in Las Vegas, I expect experiences — of which ‘entertainment’ is one option — will be center stage. We will be watching for repositioning of products and services as experiences, as well as for new ideas for experiences themselves. To state the obvious, for mixed reality and immersive experiences to work well, the user experience (UX) should be intuitive and match user expectations. Companies are working to achieve this by dealing in their own individual ways with the convergence of multisensory, multiplatform, immersive media technology and language (VR, AR, MR, XR); AI; 5G; IoT; robotics and autonomous things; and blockchain. Gartner describes this as a shift from technology-literate people to people-literate technology. Continue reading CES: Expectations for the Immersive Experience Landscape

Comparison of Biometric Data Use, Storage in 50 Countries

The use of biometrics — and the resulting data — are growing exponentially. Pro-consumer website Comparitech analyzed 50 different countries to create a more detailed picture of where and why biometrics are collected and how the data is being stored. Although the U.S. is one of the countries whose biometric collection is “extensive and invasive,” in related news, the Department of Homeland Security mothballed a plan to require facial recognition screening for every person before leaving or entering the country. Continue reading Comparison of Biometric Data Use, Storage in 50 Countries

Facebook Debuts Payments System For Its Platform, Apps

Facebook unveiled Facebook Pay, a system to enable payments across its own platform as well as Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. The user will be able to send money to people, shop and donate to fundraisers. According to the company, Facebook Pay, which is completely separate from the company’s newly released Calibra wallet and Libra cryptocurrency network, is built on “existing financial infrastructure and partnerships.” Facebook Pay for Facebook and Messenger will debut in the U.S. this week. Continue reading Facebook Debuts Payments System For Its Platform, Apps

Google Debuts Android 10 OS with Gestures, More Security

After functioning as Android Q Beta for much of the year, the newly named Android 10 is now rolling out to devices, beginning with all Pixel phone models. According to Google, the company is working with other device partners to debut or upgrade their existing operating systems. Android 10 introduces fully gestural navigation (via swipe gestures), which replaces navigation buttons, thus providing more space for apps. There’s also support for a so-called dark theme which features white type against a black background. Continue reading Google Debuts Android 10 OS with Gestures, More Security

Password-Free Logins Getting Closer to Becoming a Reality

WebAuthn, with the approval of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the FIDO Alliance, just became an official web standard for password-free logins. After W3C and the FIDO Alliance first introduced it in November 2015, WebAuthn gained the support of many W3C contributors including Airbnb, Alibaba, Apple, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, PayPal, SoftBank, Tencent and Yubico. With WebAuthn, which is supported by Android and Windows 10, users can log-in via biometrics, mobile devices or FIDO security keys. Continue reading Password-Free Logins Getting Closer to Becoming a Reality

Consumers Are Adopting Smartwatches and Fitness Bands

Consumers around the world are warming to wearables, including activity trackers, fitness bands and smartwatches. IDC reports that the global wearables market increased more than 31 percent during Q4 2018, representing a new record of 59.3 million units. Total shipments of 172.2 million units for 2018 mark a 27.5 percent jump over the previous year (although IDC now includes ‘hearables’ such as headphones and earbuds in its calculations). Apple led the charge with 16.2 million devices shipped in Q4 2018, 10.4 million of which were Apple Watches. Continue reading Consumers Are Adopting Smartwatches and Fitness Bands

Apple to Roll Out Higher-End AirPods, Other Audio Products

Apple is planning to introduce higher-end AirPods, a next-gen HomePod and studio-quality over-ear headphones as early as 2019, say sources. With regard to the new AirPod, which will likely be priced more than the current earbuds’ $159, Apple is trying to increase the range that it can work away from an iPhone or iPad, and is adding noise-cancellation and water resistance against rain and sweat. A wireless charging case compatible with the upcoming AirPower charger is also in the works. Continue reading Apple to Roll Out Higher-End AirPods, Other Audio Products

Fox to Air Six-Second Ads During Thanksgiving Day Football

On Thanksgiving Day, sports fans watching football on Fox Sports will be treated to six-second commercials, which will take over the screen between plays, leaving the game in a small box on the side. Fox Networks Group first tested the six-second spot in August and, more recently, has aired them during the Major League Baseball World Series. The National Football League is embracing the six-second ad model as a way to cut down on time spent on commercials as well as make them less disruptive. Continue reading Fox to Air Six-Second Ads During Thanksgiving Day Football

Apple, Microsoft, Uber Turn to New Data Privacy Technology

Apple instituted a privacy technology, called differential privacy, that enables its software to understand users without spying on their activities. Now, Microsoft and Uber are also trying out the same technology. While differential privacy reportedly can keep data anonymous, experts warn that it’s becoming easier than ever to identify people from anonymous data sets. That includes biometrics; Citigroup has abandoned a project begun in 2015 to allow customers to scan their irises to access their accounts at an ATM. Continue reading Apple, Microsoft, Uber Turn to New Data Privacy Technology

Newly Published Google Overview Spells Out Security Details

In a recently published Infrastructure Security Design Overview, Google explains its six layers of security for the cloud it uses for its own operations and its public cloud services. The company also revealed that it designs custom chips, “including a hardware security chip that is currently being deployed on both servers and peripherals,” that allow it to “securely identify and authenticate legitimate Google devices at the hardware level.” The chip works with cryptographic signatures validated during each boot or update. Continue reading Newly Published Google Overview Spells Out Security Details

AARP, Experts Discuss Development of Wearables for Seniors

At CES in Las Vegas, AARP vice president of innovation and product development Andy Miller brought together experts who look at the design of wearables for seniors. “Experience wins with regard to product design,” he said. “Are you looking through the lens of experience when you build products — or the features?” Gerontologist Dr. Alexis Abramson stresses that design for mature and older adults requires “thoughtfulness.” “This market has so many people and so much money,” she explained. “Why aren’t we stepping back and addressing them?”

Continue reading AARP, Experts Discuss Development of Wearables for Seniors

Fitness Wearables Evolve from 10,000 Steps to New Features

Fitness wearables have exploded in number over the last two to three years. The industry has seen some consolidation, and predictions just prior to CES 2017 were that wearables were no longer the hot category of yesteryear. A panel on fitness trackers, moderated by KTLA-TV reporter Rich DeMuro (himself the owner of multiple fitness trackers), proved that assessment to be simplistic. Fitness trackers in particular are evolving beyond 10,000 steps into new territory, including the ability to intelligently track your heart rate. Continue reading Fitness Wearables Evolve from 10,000 Steps to New Features

Uber and MasterCard Moving to Selfies for Identity Verification

Uber Technologies, MasterCard and the Alabama Department of Revenue are among the handful of companies and government agencies beginning to use selfies, rather than passwords, as proof of identity. Smartphone cameras take better quality photos than before and facial recognition software is more accessible and affordable, which makes this a new option. But some experts in cybercrime aren’t as sanguine, worried that this way of proving identity is riddled with both security and privacy issues. Continue reading Uber and MasterCard Moving to Selfies for Identity Verification

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