Loon and Telkom Kenya Provide Internet Service via Balloons

Loon, a California-based unit of Alphabet, and Telkom Kenya debuted 4G Internet service in central and western Kenya, a 31,000-square-mile area that includes the capital Nairobi. In preparation, over the last few months Loon launched 35 balloons 12 miles into the sky, above commercial airplanes. Previously, Loon provided Internet service via balloons in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria destroyed all the cell towers in 2017. Telecom executives are watching to see if Loon’s technology is reliable and profitable. Continue reading Loon and Telkom Kenya Provide Internet Service via Balloons

TV Ad Budgets Dwindle, Productions Shut Down in Pandemic

With the presidential election and the Tokyo Summer Olympics, television networks expected robust advertising in 2020. But MoffettNathanson noted that, with the Olympics postponed and presidential campaigns muted due to the coronavirus pandemic, advertising revenue is expected to drop 12 percent; the WARC research group predicted that will pencil out to a $25.5 billion loss in spending. Although viewership has exploded during the shutdown, research firm Kantar said that companies have cut advertising budgets more than 40 percent. Continue reading TV Ad Budgets Dwindle, Productions Shut Down in Pandemic

Drones Take on Essential Roles During Coronavirus Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, drones have been put to good use. In Florida, for example, UPS Flight Forward is delivering medicine from a CVS pharmacy to a nearby retirement community. As former roboticist Daniel Wilson, author of “Robopocalypse” put it, “the machines we’re used to fearing are uniquely well suited to swoop in and save the day.” Although drones have successfully shed some of their dystopian image, privacy advocates and others are still wary of their use by police for broad surveillance. Continue reading Drones Take on Essential Roles During Coronavirus Pandemic

Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During Pandemic

All around the globe, from China to Israel to the U.S., robots and drones are delivering everything from groceries to medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic without the threat of transmitting COVID-19. In Sacramento, for example, startup Nuro’s R2 robots are delivering personal protective equipment, clean linens and food from a supply depot to a field hospital. But, as many businesses and governments are eager to use robots, the startups that make them are challenged to ramp up production to meet demand. Continue reading Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During Pandemic

CES 2020 Exhibit Spaces Reflect Changing Tech Landscape

As CES continues to expand its footprint and influence as the global stage for technology innovation, exhibitors are spreading themselves out across the multiple venues of CES 2020 in Las Vegas. Visitors to the show, which opens today and fills almost 3 million square feet of space with more than 4,400 exhibiting companies, will find some surprises when they look for returning CES veterans such as Intel and Qualcomm in familiar places and instead find them spread out across show locations, while discovering an unusually large presence from other companies such as IBM and John Deere.  Continue reading CES 2020 Exhibit Spaces Reflect Changing Tech Landscape

Drones in Delivery Tests, U.S. Agency Bars Chinese UAVs

Amazon, Alphabet’s Wing and Uber Technologies are conducting government-approved trials of drones to deliver packages. Wing is in Christiansburg, Virginia and Uber will begin tests in San Diego before the end of 2019. United Parcel Service also gained FAA approval to create a fleet of drones to deliver health supplies and, ultimately, consumer packages. The FAA predicts that drones for commercial purposes will reach 2.7 million by 2020. Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior is grounding more than 800 drones that were manufactured in China, citing national security concerns. Continue reading Drones in Delivery Tests, U.S. Agency Bars Chinese UAVs

Intel’s 3D Tracking, VR and Other Tech to Enhance Olympics

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be enhanced by a suite of augmented and immersive tools and experiences empowered by artificial intelligence, it was announced last week by Intel and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Intel will bring a host of innovations to the official games and to the new Intel World Open eSports tournament including 3D Athlete Tracking (3DAT), which combines augmented reality (AR) and AI for real-time insights, VR broadcasts and managerial training, and NEC facial recognition for streamlined operations. Continue reading Intel’s 3D Tracking, VR and Other Tech to Enhance Olympics

Google’s Upcoming Pixel 4 to Feature Gesture Technology

Google plans to introduce its next smartphone, the Pixel 4, with new gesture technology. The company, betting that gestures will be the “next big thing” after touchscreens, dubbed the controls “Motion Sense,” and unveiled a video showing controls such as blinking and hand waving. When Pixel 4 is debuted in October, its Motion Sense will turn off alarms, skip songs, and silence phone calls. Gesture technology is expected to be a dramatic change in how we interface not just with phones, but many other electronic devices. Continue reading Google’s Upcoming Pixel 4 to Feature Gesture Technology

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

Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

Uber demonstrated the transport of a McDonald’s meal via its Uber Elevate A4200 drone with custom-designed delivery box. The drone was set to fly only half a mile away, but the trip was canceled due to a 26-knot breeze. The demo is still noteworthy as a practical application of the technology. Uber isn’t the only company pinning some of its high-tech hopes on drone delivery. Google already has the greenlight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make similar unmanned commercial deliveries in Virginia, and Amazon also debuted its drone delivery service. Continue reading Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

How DJI Osmo Action Cam Stacks Up Against GoPro Hero

Drone maker DJI just introduced its Osmo Action, a camera that some say will give GoPro a run for its money. Among its strong points, the Osmo Action shoots 4K at 60 fps and 1080p at 240 fps. It offers good electronic image stabilization and a front LCD screen that lets the users double-check framing, which comes in handy when the camera is mounted to a bike frame or vehicle, obscuring the 16×9 LCD rear screen. It also offers a replaceable lens cover to easily add filters. Its form factor and user interface mimics that of the GoPro. Continue reading How DJI Osmo Action Cam Stacks Up Against GoPro Hero

Verizon, ThirdEye Gen Partner on 5G Mixed Reality Glasses

Verizon is teaming with ThirdEye Gen to offer its first official mixed reality smart glasses for 5G. ThirdEye has been awarded two patents for OLED displays and low-latency data streaming. The partnership is ThirdEye’s first with a wireless provider, said company founder Nick Cherukuri, who noted that the “advanced 5G use cases … will bring about a new era of hands-free human interaction.” One example would be an auto mechanic who could scan a “complex motor” and send the image to a remote expert for real-time help. Continue reading Verizon, ThirdEye Gen Partner on 5G Mixed Reality Glasses

FAA Approves Commercial Delivery For Alphabet’s Drones

Wing Aviation, a unit of Alphabet, received the Federal Aviation Administration’s first authorization to deliver consumer goods via drone. Being first is a coup for Google’s parent company and a harbinger that many other companies — Amazon among them — will soon launch drone delivery services. Not long ago, officials predicted that the FAA wouldn’t implement the first rules for unmanned aircraft delivery until 2020 or 2021. The current FAA permit for Wing Aviation only includes a rural area around Blacksburg, Virginia. Continue reading FAA Approves Commercial Delivery For Alphabet’s Drones

Google Establishes Advisory Panel to Examine AI Fairness

Google is forming the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC), an external eight-member advisory group to “consider some of the most complex challenges [in AI],” such as facial recognition and fairness. The move comes about a year after Google issued a charter stating its AI principles, and months after Google said it would not provide “general-purpose facial recognition APIs” before the ATEAC addresses relevant policy issues. The advisory group will hold four meetings in 2019, starting in April. Continue reading Google Establishes Advisory Panel to Examine AI Fairness

Facebook Teams with Viasat to Offer Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspots

In Facebook’s latest effort to bring Internet access to rural communities and less developed areas, the social giant is teaming with Carlsbad, California-based Viasat to deliver high-speed satellite-powered Wi-Fi hotspots. Starting in remote regions of Mexico, the two companies are eyeing a potential global project for the future. Last April, Viasat and local partner Prosperist introduced the “Community” Wi-Fi hotspot service in Mexico, which recently became available to more than one million citizens. Community uses the ViaSat-2 satellite system, which the company describes as the highest-capacity satellites currently in orbit. Continue reading Facebook Teams with Viasat to Offer Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspots

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