Valve Plans to Introduce its Valve Index VR Headset in May

In May, Valve Corporation will unveil a virtual reality headset, dubbed the Valve Index. In 2016, the company teamed up with HTC to launch the SteamVR headset. Valve, which has a dedicated website for the new VR headset, will only reveal that it features two sensors flanking the front and supports a 135-degree field of view (FOV), which is greater than HTC Vive and Oculus Rift’s 110-degree FOV. Valve doesn’t mention SteamVR Knuckles controllers, which it has promoted via developer outreach since 2016. Continue reading Valve Plans to Introduce its Valve Index VR Headset in May

Federal Agencies Investigate Facebook for Legal Violations

Facebook is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for numerous potential civil and criminal violations. The Silicon Valley company, which denies the charges, said it is cooperating with law enforcement. The HUD investigation, the most recent, states that Facebook allowed advertisers to restrict who they target, based on race, religion and national origin. Continue reading Federal Agencies Investigate Facebook for Legal Violations

Viacom Digital Eyes Streaming to Target Younger Audience

For years, Viacom didn’t move decisively into the digital arena, but chief executive Bob Bakish changed that in 2017 when he hired digital media executive Kelly Day to head Viacom Digital Studios in leading MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, Comedy Central and other youth-oriented properties. With her team of 400+ employees, Day has created new original series for different platforms and led the purchase of Awesomeness. In February 2019, Tubular Labs ranked Viacom No. 9 for online video views, up from No. 24 in October 2017. Continue reading Viacom Digital Eyes Streaming to Target Younger Audience

AI Pioneers Are Honored With the Prestigious Turing Award

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) honored three artificial intelligence pioneers with the prestigious Turing Award for their work on neural networks. The Turing Award, often dubbed the Nobel Prize of computing, was launched in 1966 and includes a $1 million prize that the three honorees will share. Doctors Geoffrey Hinton, Yann LeCun and Yoshua Bengio helped lay the foundation for the evolution of technologies including facial recognition, digital assistants and self-driving vehicles. Continue reading AI Pioneers Are Honored With the Prestigious Turing Award

Microsoft Rolls Out Additional Plans to Combat Patent Trolls

Microsoft revealed plans to expand its Azure IP Advantage patent troll defense program by offering its customers building Azure-compatible IoT services with access to a library of 10,000 patents that can help protect them from IP lawsuits, especially related to cloud computing. The tech giant also announced that it is contributing some 500 patents to the non-profit LOT Network, founded in 2014, which provides patents from a growing number of member companies and additional sources to help protect startups against patent trolls. Continue reading Microsoft Rolls Out Additional Plans to Combat Patent Trolls

Europe Passes a Strict Law That Favors Copyright Holders

The European Union adopted a strict online copyright law requiring technology companies to ink licensing agreements with authors, musicians and news publishers. The goal is to force technology platforms to proactively remove unlicensed copyrighted content from their sites, rather than respond to thousands of complaints by copyright holders. Lobbying leading up to the vote was vigorous. While media companies are celebrating the move, the new law is a blow to companies such as Google and Facebook, as well as free speech advocates. Continue reading Europe Passes a Strict Law That Favors Copyright Holders

FTC Orders Broadband Firms to Reveal Data Collection Info

The Federal Trade Commission ordered Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other broadband providers to file reports within 45 days on why and how they collect consumer data and if they allow consumers to block such collection. The federal agency’s chair Joseph Simons said the move was “the first shot out of the box” in an investigation into the collection and use of personal data, with the potential aim of creating enforcement rules and helping Congress develop legislation on data privacy. Simons also promised more action. Continue reading FTC Orders Broadband Firms to Reveal Data Collection Info

Amazon, National Science Foundation to Further AI Fairness

Amazon is teaming up with the National Science Foundation (NSF), pledging up to $10 million in research grants over the next three years to further fairness in artificial intelligence and machine learning. More specifically, the grants will target “explainability” as well as potential negative biases and effects, mitigation strategies for such effects, validation of fairness and inclusivity. The goal is to encourage “broadened acceptance” of AI, thus enabling the U.S. to make better progress on the technology’s evolution. Continue reading Amazon, National Science Foundation to Further AI Fairness

Amazon Testing Video Ads on its iOS Mobile Shopping App

Amazon plans to sell video ads on its mobile shopping app, a direct challenge to Google and Facebook’s control of the $129 billion digital advertising sector. Sources report that the tech giant has been beta testing ads on the Apple iOS platform “for several months,” and that it plans to roll out ad sales on Google’s Android platform later in 2019. Searches on Amazon’s mobile app trigger relevant ads, making them more likely to lead to actual purchases. With this move, Amazon opens up a potentially lucrative revenue stream. Continue reading Amazon Testing Video Ads on its iOS Mobile Shopping App

‘Glitch’ Exposes Millions of Facebook Passwords Internally

Security researcher Brian Krebs revealed that up to 600 million passwords of Facebook users were mistakenly stored in plain text and accessible by up to 20,000 Facebook employees. The passwords were reportedly logged and stored without encryption. KrebsOnSecurity explained yesterday that in some cases, passwords were searchable as far back as 2012. Facebook says it has resolved a “glitch” that may be responsible for the problem and will be notifying users of Facebook, Facebook Lite and Instagram. The company said that its internal investigation did not uncover any misuse of the data. Continue reading ‘Glitch’ Exposes Millions of Facebook Passwords Internally

Instagram Tool Lets Users Make In-App Fashion Purchases

Partnering with 23 brands, Facebook’s Instagram debuted an easy-to-use in-app checkout tool for U.S. users. Adidas, Burberry, Dior, Nike, H&M, Zara, Kylie Cosmetics and Kim Kardashian West’s KKW Beauty are among the first retailers to sign on, with more to be added to the beta test throughout the year. Users in the U.S. will see the feature roll out over the next few weeks. Instagram head of product Vishal Shah noted that, “given that 80 percent of people follow a business on Instagram, the desire really is there to shop.” Continue reading Instagram Tool Lets Users Make In-App Fashion Purchases

Social Platforms Under Scrutiny For Rules Related to Kids

YouTube, founded in 2005, has operated outside the advertising rules that regulate television broadcasting. But due to its significant reach and influence, the site is now under scrutiny for potential regulation — which will likely start with children’s programming. A digital influencer like 15-year old JoJo Siwa is a case in point: she draws millions of young female viewers to her quirky videos. But she also inks endorsement deals and sells branded fashion lines with Target, blurring the lines between content and advertising. Continue reading Social Platforms Under Scrutiny For Rules Related to Kids

Facebook Commits to Banning Discriminatory Targeted Ads

Facebook will stop allowing marketers to target advertisements based on housing, jobs or credit to people of a specific race, gender or age group. Federal law bans discrimination in these three areas, and Facebook’s changes would put the company in compliance. The move is also part of a settlement of several lawsuits opposing the practice. The American Civil Liberties Union, National Fair Housing Alliance and Communications Workers of America are among those that have sued Facebook over biased targeted advertising. Continue reading Facebook Commits to Banning Discriminatory Targeted Ads

Oculus Reveals its Upcoming PC-Connected Rift S Headset

Oculus unveiled a new version of its Rift VR headset at GDC 2019 yesterday. The $399 Rift S, available this spring, will feature a new design, higher resolution display (up to 1280×1440 per eye), two updated Oculus Touch controllers, and embedded sensors for tracking (rather than cameras). The current $349 Rift relies on an array of external webcams to sense the environment. The new Rift S will require a PC in order to power its high-res graphics, while the wireless Oculus Quest, also available this spring for $399 will not need additional power. Continue reading Oculus Reveals its Upcoming PC-Connected Rift S Headset

EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

European regulators yesterday fined tech giant Google 1.5 billion euros (about $1.7 billion U.S.) for violating antitrust rules in the online ad market. This marks the European Union’s third fine against Google since 2017. As part of its larger efforts to better regulate global technology powerhouses, EU authorities took action based on their contention that Google has been imposing unfair terms on those companies in Europe that use the Google search feature on their websites. In the U.S., regulators are also taking a closer look at business models and mergers involving big tech companies. Continue reading EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

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