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

UltraViolet Users Are Reminded to Link Libraries to Retailer

Cloud-based video locker UltraViolet, Hollywood’s attempt at a cross-platform digital movie storage service that launched in 2011, is scheduled to shut down tomorrow. To avoid permanently losing access to content, UltraViolet users are reminded to link their libraries of movies and TV shows to an existing retailer such FandangoNOW, Kaleidescape or Walmart-owned Vudu. After tomorrow, according to the homepage, “Your UltraViolet Library will automatically close and, in the majority of cases, your movies and TV shows will remain accessible at previously-linked retailers.” Continue reading UltraViolet Users Are Reminded to Link Libraries to Retailer

Led by Search Dominance, Google Posts Strong Earnings

Despite analysts’ forecast of a slowdown and the threat of regulations, Google parent Alphabet posted strong earnings, with reported revenue of $38.9 billion, up 19 percent over the same period last year, and $9.2 billion in profits. The tech company’s continued dominance in search is foundational to its robust financial health. Announcement of the strong results, after a worrisome first quarter, caused Alphabet’s stock to rise 9 percent in after-hours trading. Google is expected to profit from advertising in Maps, YouTube and other areas. Continue reading Led by Search Dominance, Google Posts Strong Earnings

Apple to Pay $1B For Intel’s Smartphone Modem Business

Earlier this week, we reported that Apple was close to a deal to pick up Intel’s 5G mobile chip business. Now it’s official. Apple revealed yesterday that it would spend $1 billion to purchase the majority of the chip giant’s smartphone modem business in a deal expected to close during the fourth quarter. The acquisition, which will provide Apple with new intellectual property, equipment, leases and about 2,200 Intel employees, should help the company gain more control over the development of wireless tech for its iPhones and reduce its reliance on Intel-rival Qualcomm. Continue reading Apple to Pay $1B For Intel’s Smartphone Modem Business

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

Microsoft Invests in OpenAI to Pursue Challenging AI Goal

With Sam Altman as chief executive, OpenAI, the nonprofit artificial intelligence lab he founded with Elon Musk, has become a for-profit company pursuing investments. In fact, Altman, who stepped down as head of Y Combinator, just inked an impressive $1 billion contract with Microsoft. With Microsoft as a marquee investor, OpenAI will now pursue its lofty goal of creating artificial general intelligence (AGI), a system that can mimic the human brain. Alphabet’s DeepMind lab is also pursuing the creation of AGI. Continue reading Microsoft Invests in OpenAI to Pursue Challenging AI Goal

Microsoft Experiences Robust Growth With Intelligent Cloud

Much of the focus has been on Amazon, Facebook and Google in recent weeks, obscuring the fact that Microsoft is in fact the largest tech company and the largest publicly traded company, with a market capitalization if $1+ trillion. Its quiet success continued with the company’s latest quarterly report indicating sales grew 12 percent to $33.7 billion. The company also enjoyed $13.2 billion in profits in the same quarter, in part due to $2.6 billion in one-time tax benefits and inked its “largest commercial deal ever” with AT&T. Continue reading Microsoft Experiences Robust Growth With Intelligent Cloud

CTA: Tech Sales to Reach New High of $401 Billion in 2019

The Consumer Technology Association forecast that U.S. consumer technology sales will grow 2.2 percent to $401 billion in 2019, due to AI-enabled devices, streaming services, and in-vehicle and other technologies. CTA chief executive Gary Shapiro noted that 5G will provide the faster connectivity that will help boost sales of new technologies, but warned, however, that “unnecessary tariffs — taxes paid by American consumers and businesses — threaten to slow down our nation’s economic momentum.” Continue reading CTA: Tech Sales to Reach New High of $401 Billion in 2019

AI Development Accelerates, Chips Speed Model Training

At VentureBeat’s Transform 2019 conference in San Francisco, Intel vice president/chief technology officer of AI products Amir Khosrowshahi and IoT general manager Jonathan Ballon discussed the evolution of AI adoption. A Lopez Research survey revealed that 86 percent of companies believe AI will be strategic to their business, but only 36 percent of them report having made “meaningful progress.” Khosrowshahi pointed out that more companies than ever have access to the necessary data, tools and training. Continue reading AI Development Accelerates, Chips Speed Model Training

IBM to Take on Competitors With Its Hybrid Cloud Strategy

IBM has a new strategy to compete with Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Alibaba in cloud computing: it spent $34 billion to acquire Red Hat, which specializes in open source software tools to write cloud computing applications. Red Hat already has partnerships with all the major cloud providers. IBM, a latecomer to this highly competitive sector, is presenting itself as a neutral party to those concerned about becoming too dependent on a single player. For this reason, Germany also has plans to build its own cloud infrastructure. Continue reading IBM to Take on Competitors With Its Hybrid Cloud Strategy

Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Up until now, massive conglomerates have dominated robotics, but that’s about to change, as the cost of hardware production plunges (due to globalization) and computing and cloud solutions become cheaper, more powerful and easy to ramp up. That’s given rise to Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions, in which vertical-specific hardware and software are bundled and sold in monthly subscription packages. At the same time, California enacted a new law that would require a bot to reveal its “artificial identity.” Continue reading Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Spotify’s Soundtrap Expands its Free Toolset for Podcasters

Acquired by Spotify in 2017, cloud-based audio recording studio Soundtrap just expanded its free tier for podcasters, now offering access to an unlimited number of projects and 2,210 loops. All creators using Soundtrap will now have unlimited free storage for podcasts and songs. Founded in 2012, the Swedish-based company has offered four subscription tiers, ranging from $10 to $17 per month, all supporting an unlimited number of projects, 550 instruments and 4,100 loops. Soundtrap’s free tier previously limited users to five projects and 900 loops. The number of available instruments will remain the same. Continue reading Spotify’s Soundtrap Expands its Free Toolset for Podcasters

Consortium Releases New Measurement Benchmarks for AI

MLPerf, a consortium of 40 technology companies including Google and Facebook, just released benchmarks for evaluating artificial intelligence-enabled tools, including image recognition, object detection and voice translation. MLPerf general chair Peter Mattson, a Google engineer, reported, “for CIOs, metrics make for better products and services they can then incorporate into their organization.” Thus far, organizations have been slow to adopt AI technologies, in part due to the plethora of tools and services available. Continue reading Consortium Releases New Measurement Benchmarks for AI

Newzoo Forecasts U.S. Will Top Gaming Market This Year

According to market research company Newzoo, the United States is on the cusp of becoming the world’s top gaming market at $36.9 billion, the first time since 2015, and supplanting China. Newzoo said its forecast isn’t due to the 2018 freeze on gaming licenses in China, but rather is a reflection of “new console users and in general massive growth in console spending” on both Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox. Newzoo senior market analyst Tom Wijman points out that about 50 percent of U.S. game revenues come from consoles. Continue reading Newzoo Forecasts U.S. Will Top Gaming Market This Year

Ubisoft to Launch Its Uplay Plus Game Subscription Service

At the E3 conference in Los Angeles this week, Ubisoft announced its entrance into subscription PC gaming with Uplay Plus, which will offer 100 titles published by Ubisoft. The service is slated to launch on September 3 and is designed as a monthly fee in exchange for unlimited access to the games. Although that model is similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass and EA’s Origin Access, Uplay Plus is more expensive, at $14.99 per month. Among the games available on Uplay are “Assassin’s Creed” and “Rainbow Six” titles, which will also be on Google’s Stadia service next year. Continue reading Ubisoft to Launch Its Uplay Plus Game Subscription Service

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