Niantic Acquires 6D.ai with Plans for Large-Scale AR Projects

Niantic has acquired 6D.ai, an augmented reality company that is building a 3D map of the world via smartphone cameras. According to Niantic chief executive John Hanke, the resulting dynamic 3D world map will enable developers to create planet-scale AR experiences. On the company blog, he stated that, “this means we’re even closer to an AR platform that will unlock the ability for any developer to make content for current and future AR hardware.” Founded in 2017, 6D.ai was spun out of Oxford University’s Active Vision Lab. Continue reading Niantic Acquires 6D.ai with Plans for Large-Scale AR Projects

Facebook Gives $100 Million in Local News Grants, Marketing

Although news media have seen a rise in digital subscriptions during the coronavirus, advertising has plummeted. Facebook has stepped in with the announcement it will provide $25 million in grants to local news outlets, as well as spend $75 million in marketing. Examples of outlets hard hit include BuzzFeed and American Media, which are cutting employees’ salaries, and alt-weeklies that have laid off as much as 75 percent of their employees. Facebook fact-checkers, meanwhile, are fighting coronavirus misinformation. Continue reading Facebook Gives $100 Million in Local News Grants, Marketing

Government, MIT Analyze Location Data For Spread of Virus

During the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. federal government, via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local governments, is receiving analyses of people’s movements — based on location data from millions of mobile phones — in “certain areas of geographic interest.” The data, provided by the mobile advertising industry, is being used to understand how such movements may be impacting the spread of coronavirus. MIT researchers are also debuting a project to track COVID-19 patients via a phone app. Continue reading Government, MIT Analyze Location Data For Spread of Virus

Big Tech Responds to Coronavirus, Improving Its Public Image

With the advent of the coronavirus, companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google quickly responded, featuring links to “high-quality information” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). Big Tech has now donated thousands of N95 masks to healthcare providers and continues to highlight accurate news. Facebook committed $100 million in small business grants and Amazon put out the call for 100,000 new employees. Overall, Big Tech isn’t just doing good but doing well, with business holding steady. Continue reading Big Tech Responds to Coronavirus, Improving Its Public Image

Advertising Sales Plummet Even as Social Media Usage Soars

Despite growing usage of social media platforms during the coronavirus pandemic, the platforms’ ad businesses are plummeting. Twitter, for example, saw its daily usage skyrocket 23 percent this year, but its revenue may have dropped as much as 20 percent in March. As businesses have slowed down or shuttered, marketers are decreasing or even stopping advertising, which is the core support of media companies. In difficult economic times, advertising spending on the media sector is often the first to be cut. Continue reading Advertising Sales Plummet Even as Social Media Usage Soars

Instagram Unveils Co-Watching Feature for Group Video Chat

Facebook’s Instagram recently debuted Co-Watching, a feature that makes it possible for users to video chat while they browse the app. With Co-Watching, users can engage in direct-message video-chat conversations to look at saved, liked and suggested photos and videos together. Co-Watching is just one example of ways that Facebook and Instagram are shifting to accommodate users and communities during the coronavirus pandemic, when many are confined to home. Instagram first began testing Co-Watching a year ago. Continue reading Instagram Unveils Co-Watching Feature for Group Video Chat

With NASCAR, Formula One, Racing Becomes Virtual eSport

With the absence of live sports on TV during restrictions due to the coronavirus, FOX Sports and NASCAR together came up with the idea of virtual races. On March 22, the first ever eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race was a huge hit, drawing 903,000 viewers on FS1, making it the highest-rated eSports TV program to date as well as the most-watched broadcast on FS1 since the cancelation of live sports events and broadcasting. As a result, FOX Sports plans to simulcast the remainder of the NASCAR iRacing series on FOX, FS1 and the FOX Sports app. Continue reading With NASCAR, Formula One, Racing Becomes Virtual eSport

Coronavirus Transforms Facebook into Major News Hub Again

With millions of Americans stuck at home, Facebook’s usage — especially messaging and video calls — has skyrocketed, and driven traffic to purveyors of coronavirus news. So much so that, as of a week ago, more than 50 percent of the articles being read on Facebook in the U.S. were coronavirus-related, and U.S. traffic from Facebook to other sites also soared 50+ percent due “almost entirely” to the coronavirus. But the social media companies aren’t spared the economic impact of the virus: a decrease in marketing dollars. Continue reading Coronavirus Transforms Facebook into Major News Hub Again

Europe Attempts to Ease Strain From Increased Internet Traffic

European carriers such as Vodafone are experiencing a spike in data traffic due to increased usage by home-bound consumers. The European Commission, which has net neutrality regulations in place, warned the telcos to avoid blocking, slowing down or prioritizing traffic as they attempt to avoid gridlock. At the same time, the Commission is concerned that crucial services including healthcare and online learning might be impeded. Netflix, Disney+, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Amazon Prime are among the companies cooperating with the European Union to curtail bandwidth usage for the time being. Continue reading Europe Attempts to Ease Strain From Increased Internet Traffic

Big Tech Companies Acquire Significant Number of AI Startups

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating the purchase of hundreds of small startups made by Big Tech companies Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft to determine if they have become too powerful. In 2019, a record-breaking 231 artificial intelligence startups were snapped up, which in many cases ended public availability of their products. According to CB Insights, that number compares to 42 AI startups acquired in 2014. Apple has been the No. 1 buyer of these startups since 2010. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Acquire Significant Number of AI Startups

French Competition Authority Fines Apple & Two Wholesalers

The French Competition Authority fined Apple 1.1 billion euros ($1.23 billion) after determining that the company unfairly divided products and customers between two wholesalers, Tech Data and Ingram Micro, and forced them to charge the same prices as those offered in its own retail stores. The Authority president Isabelle de Silva stated that doing so had the effect of “sterilizing the wholesale market for Apple products.” Tech Data and Ingram Micro were fined 76.1 million euros and 62.9 million euros, respectively. Continue reading French Competition Authority Fines Apple & Two Wholesalers

Magic Leap Is Considering a Sale, Stakeholder or Partnership

Magic Leap is exploring the possibility of a sale, according to sources. The Florida-based startup raised $2.6 billion to create augmented reality products, and now has hired an adviser to consider “strategic options” for moving forward. In addition to the potential of a sale, Magic Leap could sell a stake in the company or form a strategic partnership. The company is valued at $6 billion to $8 billion. Among the company’s largest investors are Alphabet’s Google and China’s Alibaba Group Holding. Continue reading Magic Leap Is Considering a Sale, Stakeholder or Partnership

Twitter Settles With Activist Investor, Dorsey Keeps Position

Twitter and activist investor Elliott Management have come to an agreement to keep chief executive Jack Dorsey in his position, at least for now. Elliott Management, a $40 billion hedge fund that has a 4 percent stake in Twitter, sought to oust Dorsey from his position, claiming that, by splitting his attention between Twitter and Square, the chief executive let the former company lose its competitive edge and slip behind rivals. On February 21, Elliott nominated four candidates for Twitter’s board to add to the pressure. Continue reading Twitter Settles With Activist Investor, Dorsey Keeps Position

Microsoft Develops Scalable 2D-to-3D Conversion Technique

Transforming 2D objects into 3D ones is a challenge that has defeated numerous artificial intelligence labs, including those at Facebook, Nvidia and startup Threedy.ai. Now, a Microsoft Research team stated it has created the first “scalable” training technique to derive 3D models from 2D data. Their technology can, furthermore, learn to generate better shapes when trained exclusively with 2D images. The Microsoft team took advantage of software that produces images from display data, as featured in industrial renderers. Continue reading Microsoft Develops Scalable 2D-to-3D Conversion Technique

Facebook’s Anti-Spam Tool Takes Down 6.6B Fake Accounts

Facebook debuted a powerful tool against spammers that uses Deep Entity Classification (DEC), a machine-learning technology. The company’s data science manager Bochra Gharbaoui reported the tool has already taken down 6.6 billion fake accounts last year and blocked millions of attempts to create new ones. DEC analyzes “deep features” of each individual profile, which refers to its behavioral patterns rather than its direct characteristics and includes the profile’s properties and groups/pages the user has contacted. Continue reading Facebook’s Anti-Spam Tool Takes Down 6.6B Fake Accounts

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