Cortana: Microsoft Developing Next-Gen Personal Assistant

Microsoft is developing a personal assistant app called Cortana that will compete directly with Apple’s Siri and Google Now. Cortana derives its name from an artificially intelligent character in Microsoft’s “Halo” series. Essentially, the app will be able to learn and adapt while utilizing machine-learning technology and the Satori knowledge repository powering Bing. The app will likely be released somewhere between 2014 and 2016. Continue reading Cortana: Microsoft Developing Next-Gen Personal Assistant

Apple TV Software Could Be Scheduled for Refresh Next Week

Apple did not unveil any updates to its Apple TV software or hardware during the company’s press event this week as many had expected. However, people familiar with Apple’s plans indicate that Apple TV is scheduled for software updates on September 18, the same day that the company plans to release its new iTunes Radio service and redesigned iOS 7 mobile operating software for download by iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners. Continue reading Apple TV Software Could Be Scheduled for Refresh Next Week

Pixar Veterans Create Interactive Talk Show App for Kids

Kids who watch shows such as “Dora the Explorer” and “Blue’s Clues” are often asked questions that encourage responses, but the TV of course does not interact beyond that point. This problem is being solved by San Francisco startup ToyTalk, a company launched by former employees of Pixar Animation Studios. Their first iPad app, “The Winston Show,” features Winston and his sidekick Ellington posing questions to their young viewers and then responding intelligently. Continue reading Pixar Veterans Create Interactive Talk Show App for Kids

IFA 2013: Philips Launches Cloud TV and Explorer Storage Apps

During this week’s IFA 2013 in Berlin, Philips TV 3.0 was unveiled, including a number of cloud-related services intended to change the viewing habits of Philips’ Smart TV owners. The company is launching a new Cloud TV app, an over-the-top service that provides access to hundreds of TV channels which can be sorted by genre, favorites and themes. Philips also unveiled the new Cloud Explorer app for storage of personal media such as videos, music and pictures. Continue reading IFA 2013: Philips Launches Cloud TV and Explorer Storage Apps

Scratch Play: Assimilate Launches Universal Media Player

Santa Clara, CA-based Assimilate has launched a free media player for visual effects artists, cinematographers and prosumers that supports Raw footage from digital cinematography and DSLR cameras. The new Scratch Play also supports formats such as OpenEXR and ProRes, providing digital imaging professionals and DSLR enthusiasts with the ability to review shots, pull stills, export CDLs or LUTs, and review animation at full resolution. Continue reading Scratch Play: Assimilate Launches Universal Media Player

Project Spark Lets Users Build Their Own Games Using Kinect

Project Spark enables game fans to create their own games. Gamers can create any type of game world they desire, from rugged mountains to scorching deserts to beautifully lush jungles. They can also design opponents, monsters and other characters to inhabit their world. While this may be similar to a “sim” game, it is essentially the Xbox One features, specifically motion tracking and facial recognition, that truly set Project Spark apart as a creative tool. Continue reading Project Spark Lets Users Build Their Own Games Using Kinect

Showtime Network Syncing Interactive Content on LG Smart TVs

Premium cable network Showtime has begun syncing interactive elements for its shows directly onto LG’s smart TVs using Web-based technology. This service is unique in that there are no extraneous downloads or devices. Although not all Showtime viewers own the compatible technology for interactive TV, this will likely change in the future as more TV manufacturers adopt the standard HTML5 and JavaScript technologies used by LG’s LivePlus service. Continue reading Showtime Network Syncing Interactive Content on LG Smart TVs

Amazon Web Services: Outage During Bid for CIA Contract

Amazon’s Web Services went down on Sunday due to a technical issue at a North Virginia data center. The outage was caused by a problem with a single networking device, and reveals that many companies do not distribute their Web services in different locations for service redundancy. This comes as Amazon is bidding on a CIA contract to manage their data services, and competitors are critical of whether Amazon can manage the demands of government data. Continue reading Amazon Web Services: Outage During Bid for CIA Contract

Ballmer to Retire: What Challenges Lie Ahead for Microsoft?

Steve Ballmer is retiring as CEO of Microsoft, leaving many to question what the next CEO will need to do in order to invigorate the company, boost morale and emphasize innovation. Ballmer is said to have focused more on sales and revenue, rather than experimentation, and did not fully develop many technologies the company began, some of which competitors would later turn into blockbusters. However, innovation under Ballmer is evidenced by departures such as the Kinect motion sensor and the interface of Windows 8. Continue reading Ballmer to Retire: What Challenges Lie Ahead for Microsoft?

Apple Outlines Advertising Strategy for iTunes Radio Partners

Apple plans to launch iTunes Radio next month along with brand partners including McDonald’s, Nissan, Pepsi, Procter and Gamble, and possibly others. Apple’s new offering plans to compete with current streaming radio services such as Pandora. While the launch partners will benefit from exclusivity until the end of 2013, iTunes Radio will later be available to other advertisers. Apple also hopes to generate revenue by providing users with the option to purchase songs played via the service. Continue reading Apple Outlines Advertising Strategy for iTunes Radio Partners

Pono Music Player Takes on Problems of Compressed Audio

New details have emerged on the Pono music player, musician Neil Young’s music device that intends to play music closest to its original recording quality. The device is expected to be available later this year, and will play all music formats. To play the maximum quality, music must be played on the device itself that will be offered from an online music store. Thousands of albums have been processed to offer the highest quality for Pono. Continue reading Pono Music Player Takes on Problems of Compressed Audio

Sony to Carry Viacom Channels on its Internet Pay TV Service

Sony may have just moved ahead in the race to create an online version of pay television, thanks to a preliminary deal with Viacom to carry channels including MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon via its planned pay TV service. Competitors in this space, such as Google and Intel, have yet to land such a major content deal. Sony hopes to launch an Internet service next year — streamed to its Bravia TVs and PlayStation gaming consoles — that will compete with companies that sell subscription TV services. Continue reading Sony to Carry Viacom Channels on its Internet Pay TV Service

Apple Acquires Video Aggregator Matcha.tv, Fuels Speculation

Apple has acquired Matcha.tv, a Web service that provides users access to videos from various sources. Video aggregation technology has also been appearing in new and upcoming video game consoles. The Matcha.tv site has been shut down and customer data deleted, a move that has created speculation on the reason. Some question if Apple will attempt to change the TV experience with the development of a recommendation system or a cloud-based DVR. Continue reading Apple Acquires Video Aggregator Matcha.tv, Fuels Speculation

Blu-ray, Electronic Sell Through and VOD Having Solid Year

Revenue from digital platforms are up 24 percent for the first six months of 2013, as an increasing number of consumers are turning to online options for entertainment. While overall disc sales, including DVD and Blu-ray, declined 4.7 percent for the same period, revenue generated from Blu-ray discs are up 15 percent. According to the Digital Entertainment Group, consumer spending on home entertainment grew more than 2 percent to $8.6 billion. Continue reading Blu-ray, Electronic Sell Through and VOD Having Solid Year

Kickstarter Project Makes Cloud Storage as Simple as a Plug

Plug is a small network connected device that enables users to convert a portable hard drive into private cloud storage that can be shared between PCs, smartphones and tablets. The creators are looking to create a more secure alternative to services such as Dropbox to store, preserve and share data. With 38 days remaining, the Kickstarter campaign has already significantly exceeded its original $69,000 goal (as of press time, the total was $736,790). Continue reading Kickstarter Project Makes Cloud Storage as Simple as a Plug

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