Google Shutters its Project Ara Plans to Build Modular Phones

Google has reportedly suspended its Project Ara initiative to build a modular smartphone with interchangeable components. The goal was to develop a phone that consumers could customize with cameras, speakers, batteries and other parts in an effort to prolong lifespan and reduce electronic waste. “The move marks an about-face for the tech company, which announced a host of partners for Project Ara at its developer conference in May and said it would ship a developer edition of the product this autumn,” according to Reuters. “Axing Project Ara is one of the first steps in a campaign to unify Google’s various hardware efforts, which range from Chromebook laptops to Nexus phones.” Continue reading Google Shutters its Project Ara Plans to Build Modular Phones

Consumers Will Be Able to 3D Print an Intel Robot This Year

Intel’s customizable, 3D printable robot known as Jimmy will go on the market later this year. The singing, walking, talking, tweeting and dancing robot can be constructed by anyone with access to a 3D printer, which will assemble the basic parts. The $1,600 kit for the open source robot includes the non-printable motors, wires, battery and processor. By downloading apps, consumers can program the robot to suit their own needs and interests. Continue reading Consumers Will Be Able to 3D Print an Intel Robot This Year

Publicis Groupe and Facebook Announce New Ad Partnership

Facebook and Publicis Groupe, the advertising holding company with clients such as Procter & Gamble, Verizon and Coca-Cola, have struck an advertising deal reportedly worth “hundreds of millions of dollars.” The partnership will give Publicis increased access to Facebook’s user data, ad inventory, and opportunities to advertise on Instagram and to utilize video ads. The deal is the largest to-date between an agency holding company and a tech company. Continue reading Publicis Groupe and Facebook Announce New Ad Partnership

Mortar Data Makes it Easier to Build Recommendation Engines

Mortar Data, a New York-based company known for building and hosting custom big data applications, recently announced the launch of a recommendation engine platform that allows anyone to build their own system, and use it with their own data, for free. Recommendation systems are becoming increasingly popular, and have become a gold mine for big companies such as Pandora and Netflix, which use the services to make recommendations based on customer history. Continue reading Mortar Data Makes it Easier to Build Recommendation Engines

Yahoo No Longer Honoring ‘Do Not Track’ Requests by its Users

In a blog post this week, Yahoo announced that its privacy policy will no longer recognize when users activate “Do Not Track” signals in their browsers. Although users purposefully use this setting to indicate they do not want companies to monitor their online behavior, the tracking is necessary for Yahoo to create a more personalized experience for its users. The move is part of larger strategy by CEO Marissa Mayer to brand Yahoo as a “personalization company.” Continue reading Yahoo No Longer Honoring ‘Do Not Track’ Requests by its Users

Amazon Hires Engineering Team to Design Its Own Server Chips

Retail and cloud giant Amazon has joined Google and Facebook in investing in development its own server chips. The company recently brought together a team of CPU architects and hardware development engineers, four of whom come from Calxeda, the defunct ARM-based server startup in Austin, Texas. Despite the high initial costs of custom server chips, these specialized products would allow Amazon to optimize costs and improve performance. Continue reading Amazon Hires Engineering Team to Design Its Own Server Chips

Pinterest Touts 30 Billion Pins, Sees Big Hit in Related Pins

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann announced during an event in San Francisco last week that users of the social visual discovery tool have created more than 750 million boards and contributed more than 30 billion Pins since Pinterest was founded in 2010. Acording to Silbermann, the number of Pins has grown by nearly 50 percent during the past six months, due in part to the introduction of Related Pins about a year ago. More than 90 percent of current Pins are connected to Related Pins. Continue reading Pinterest Touts 30 Billion Pins, Sees Big Hit in Related Pins

Newsbeat Creates Custom Radio Show Based on Your Interests

Last week the Tribune Company released a new iOS and Android app called Newsbeat, which plans to change how we consume our daily news by offering a more personalized podcast-like experience. Newsbeat has access to more than 7,000 sources from major newspapers to smaller blogs. Users can specify what types of stories and publications they are interested in, and the app will create a customized newscast by using Pandora-like artificial intelligence technology. Continue reading Newsbeat Creates Custom Radio Show Based on Your Interests

Matter Labs: New Software Brings 3D Printing to E-Commerce

While large brands often generate business by enabling consumers to customize products online, smaller companies do not always have the resources to do the same, something that will likely change with 3D printing technology and services. Massachusetts-based startup Matter Labs has developed a plug-and-play API called Matter Remix and software called Matter.io to help e-commerce merchants leverage 3D printing and add product customization features to online stores. Continue reading Matter Labs: New Software Brings 3D Printing to E-Commerce

Viacom to Launch Personalized, Interactive Kids’ TV Channel

Viacom is planning to launch My Nickelodeon Junior, an interactive children’s TV channel, to Verizon FiOS customers in the upcoming months. The channel uses elements of streaming services such as Pandora and Netflix, and allows parents to program the channel according to their personal taste, while accessing hundreds of old episodes of kids’ shows like “Dora the Explorer.” The channel will appear on the TV menu next to the main Nick Jr. channel.  Continue reading Viacom to Launch Personalized, Interactive Kids’ TV Channel

Spotify Joins Facebook and Twitter in Social TV Conversation

Spotify and Bravo have announced a collaboration that will make the cable network Spotify’s first U.S. television partner to develop custom playlists for shows. The first playlists will be available on the day of the premieres of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” “Vanderpump Rules” and “Thicker Than Water.” Playlists will then be updated during the season with songs that reflect the characters and each show’s developments. Continue reading Spotify Joins Facebook and Twitter in Social TV Conversation

Facebook Turns to Deep Learning to Grow Search Possibilities

Facebook is looking to expand its Graph Search algorithms to account for the use of slang and expressions, and translate them into searchable key words. The company adjusted its search algorithms in January, and the changes mostly worked. The new algorithms signal the beginning of new ways to search user information using natural and nuanced language, and provide more personalized ads. Other tech companies are looking into similar technologies. Continue reading Facebook Turns to Deep Learning to Grow Search Possibilities

Apple and MLB Team Up for Interactive Ballpark Experience

Major League Baseball is launching a new initiative involving customized features for its At the Ballpark app that will make attending games a more interactive experience for sports fans. The app will use Apple’s iBeacon indoor mapping, a new feature of the company’s recently released iOS 7, for a customized stadium experience. Apple’s mapping tool addresses the limitations of using GPS indoors. MLB and Apple have been working on the project since February. Continue reading Apple and MLB Team Up for Interactive Ballpark Experience

How Netflix Decides on Building or Buying for Infrastructure

Netflix is building its own customized server boxes to deal with the massive volume of streaming content to millions of users. But the company is also considering new “off the shelf” technologies that could be less costly and more efficient. Netflix is working with hardware companies such as Western Digital to develop new technologies and design methods to improve performance and deal with the massive data traffic that Netflix experiences. Continue reading How Netflix Decides on Building or Buying for Infrastructure

Newly Launched Yahoo Screen Serves as Mobile Hub for Video

Yahoo’s mobile team in New York City has a developed an app that turns traditional channel surfing into a more intuitive experience with a swipeable interface for browsing and discovery. The iOS app serves as a mobile home for original video content from Yahoo and its content partners, while a side bar allows navigation between other Yahoo apps such as Mail, Flickr and Fantasy Sports. Yahoo Screen already offers more than 1,000 hours of comedy programming, sports, news, movie trailers and more. Continue reading Newly Launched Yahoo Screen Serves as Mobile Hub for Video

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