MovieSwap, VidAngel Claim DVD Streaming Services Are Legal

French startup MovieSwap has a new way for users who own DVDs to stream and swap them online. The company, which has a 200,000+ library of DVDs, says subscribers who own DVDs can send in their physical DVD collection and then stream them online, “swap” movies with other users, or pay to receive DVDs that they add to their digital collections. MovieSwap is not alone in creating models that skirt Hollywood studios’ copyright infringement laws, but so far the trade group that represents Hollywood studios, MPAA, has no comment. Continue reading MovieSwap, VidAngel Claim DVD Streaming Services Are Legal

Sony’s Future Lab R&D Program to Showcase Tech at SXSW

Sony announced the launch of its Future Lab Program, a new research and development initiative “that emphasizes an open creative environment and direct lines of communication with society, through which it aims to co-create new lifestyles and user value in the future.” Sony’s program will share prototypes with the user community during development and welcome feedback to help refine projects. The first project — a hands-free interface that offers a new way to experience audio — will be featured in Austin at the SXSW Interactive Festival. Continue reading Sony’s Future Lab R&D Program to Showcase Tech at SXSW

Smart Nano Drone Packs Big Features into Tiny Flying Machine

The ONAGOfly drone fits in the palm of your hand, but it comes with built-in features that are comparable with bigger and more expensive drones. The $259 flying camera system captures 1080p HD video and has smile-recognition technology and auto-follow technology to help operators capture the perfect shot. As far as safety, the ONAGOfly has obstacle avoidance sensors and can withstand wind speeds of up to 3.3 m/s. The drone is so small that it doesn’t even need to be registered with the FAA. Continue reading Smart Nano Drone Packs Big Features into Tiny Flying Machine

Doppler Labs Develops In-Ear Audio Tuners for Live Music, AR

Augmented Reality is about to get a boost, not from a new set of glasses, but from ear buds. Doppler Labs, via a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $600,000, has produced Here, live in-ear audio tuners that let the user tweak live audio from the environment or a music event. Each bud has its own microprocessor, and, importantly, there is no latency. Doppler Labs made Here for audiophiles and live music fans, and plans to provide a pair to every Coachella paid attendee, with pre-set filters for every music act. Continue reading Doppler Labs Develops In-Ear Audio Tuners for Live Music, AR

Kickstarter Hires Reporter to Investigate Drone Startup Failure

Kickstarter has hired an investigative journalist to look into a recent case in which a successful fundraising campaign led to spectacular failure. British drone startup Torquing Group raised $3.4 million (£2.3 million) and, less than a year later, went down in flames. Its co-founder/chief executive Ivan Reedman left the company for “personal health issues and irreconcilable differences” and, a visit to the company’s Wales headquarters didn’t turn up a working prototype of the product due to ship within months. Continue reading Kickstarter Hires Reporter to Investigate Drone Startup Failure

SEC Greenlights Crowdfunding for Startups, Keeps Watchful Eye

After three years of consideration, the Securities and Exchange Commission now allows ordinary investors to take equity stakes in startups through crowdfunding. The move began with the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS Act, to assist startups and small businesses to raise capital from potential investors. But, until last week, only investors whose net worth was greater than $1 million (excluding their primary residences) or earned more than $200,000 a year were permitted to invest via crowdfunding. Continue reading SEC Greenlights Crowdfunding for Startups, Keeps Watchful Eye

New Drone Adds Wearable Remote, Head-Tracking VR Goggles

The FLYBi automates many of the operational tasks that often frustrate drone users. In addition to standard features (remote control, companion app, 12MP camera, 1080p video, on-board Wi-Fi), the FLYBi has the ability to take off, hover, land — even return and change batteries — with little or no interaction by the pilot. VR goggles aid in operation, thanks to a camera unit installed on a gimbal and connected to the head-tracking unit. The FLYBi also features a 1.8-inch display with anti-glare glass and a wrist-worn remote, one of the first wearable drone controllers. Continue reading New Drone Adds Wearable Remote, Head-Tracking VR Goggles

Fig: New Game Crowdfunding Site Offers Equity to Investors

The new crowdfunding platform Fig just launched with a new way to finance computer games. Its debut is a campaign to raise $125,000 for “Outer Wilds,” an unfinished game already honored with the 2015 Independent Games Festival Awards’ Grand Prize. Fig, which plans to debut one major studio title and one independent release each month, differs from a more general crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter in two ways: it is meticulously curated and offers rewards and equity to investors. Continue reading Fig: New Game Crowdfunding Site Offers Equity to Investors

Amazon Debuts Launchpad: New Marketing and Sales Portal

Amazon unveiled Launchpad this week, a new platform designed to help hardware and physical goods startups market and distribute their new products on Amazon’s e-commerce site. Launchpad, which currently features more than 200 items from a wide variety of startups, will compete with similar services offered by Product Hunt, Shopify and Shyp. Amazon is going big with the new platform, positioning it as a global product with access to 10 international distribution portals, and working with 25 VC firms, accelerators and crowdfunding services. Continue reading Amazon Debuts Launchpad: New Marketing and Sales Portal

Device Combines Streaming Remote with Standard TV Remote

Sideclick, a new universal remote launched by True Bloom via a Kickstarter campaign, attaches to the remote controls of common streaming devices such as Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, and replaces the need for a normal TV or cable box remote. Sideclick comes with just eight buttons for basic controls including turning on the TV, controlling volume and changing channels, and snaps directly onto the given remote control of a streaming device. Sideclick, likely to ship by December, is available for preorder through Kickstarter with an $18 pledge. Continue reading Device Combines Streaming Remote with Standard TV Remote

Sony Launches Crowdfunding Platform for Employee Projects

Sony launched First Flight, a crowdfunding platform/online store for its employees’ projects seeking outside funding. In the company’s Creative Lounge, employees and outsiders can develop pitches and construct prototype products. Some of these nascent projects have been presented to senior Sony executives, and Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai has given the Seed Acceleration Project (SAP) a relatively large amount of autonomy. Among the more developed products is the HUIS programmable universal remote. Continue reading Sony Launches Crowdfunding Platform for Employee Projects

TBO: Alibaba Announces Plans for Subscription Video Service

Liu Chunning, president of Alibaba’s Digital Entertainment arm, announced that the Chinese e-commerce giant is planning to launch a new subscription video service in two months called Tmall Box Office (TBO). “We aim to become [the equivalent of] HBO and Netflix in the U.S.,” he said during the Shanghai International Film Festival. The service will stream local movies and TV shows, imported content and original programming produced by Alibaba. The service will be available on Alibaba’s smart TVs and OTT box. Continue reading TBO: Alibaba Announces Plans for Subscription Video Service

FOVE, a VR Headset with Eye-Tracking, Thrives on Kickstarter

FOVE, which claims to be the only virtual reality headset with built-in eye-tracking, has surpassed its Kickstarter goal by nearly $100,000 with 37 days left to go in the campaign. A $399 donation awards backers with a headset and development kit, and FOVE plans to deliver both by May 2016. Eye-tracking not only enables users to play games by aiming their eyes, it opens the door to foveated rendering, which reduces the computational demands on real-time processing and provides contextual feedback, avatar eye-mapping, and more. Continue reading FOVE, a VR Headset with Eye-Tracking, Thrives on Kickstarter

MashMe Enables You to Create Animated Avatars in Real Time

Croatian company MashMe has developed new software that allows users to create animated scenes and avatars of themselves using only a webcam. MashMe tracks even the most minute details of a person’s facial expressions and gestures to create animated avatars that can be used with services like Google Hangouts, Twitch and Skype. The company recently launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of raising $50,000, promising its contributors access to one of the two final software packages it plans to offer.  Continue reading MashMe Enables You to Create Animated Avatars in Real Time

YouTube Upgrades Support Music Artists and Virtual Reality

YouTube has made some compelling new changes in the last week. The video site just announced the launch of its “Cards” system, which is designed to eventually supplant annotations. The company also announced its new site, “YouTube for Artists,” essentially a resource guide for music artists promoting their work on YouTube. In addition, YouTube now supports 360-degree video formats in most of its mobile and Internet platforms, a move the company promised earlier in the year to address the growing interest in virtual reality content. Continue reading YouTube Upgrades Support Music Artists and Virtual Reality

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