Google and Lenovo Intro First Standalone Daydream Headset

Google teamed with Lenovo to launch a new standalone VR headset with specialized cameras that intends to reach beyond gaming. The new Lenovo Mirage Solo, on display at CES this week, features VR180 cameras designed to encourage users to capture 360-degree video. Google hopes this will help ramp up the current lack of VR content. The headset runs Daydream and is designed to interact with Google services such as YouTube and digital maps. The Mirage Solo touts displays that do not blur during user movement, and does not require a PC or smartphone. It is expected to ship by Q2 2018 for less than $400. Continue reading Google and Lenovo Intro First Standalone Daydream Headset

Top Platforms, Enabling Technologies Expected to Impact CES

Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google may not all have a big booth with their name on it at this year’s CES, but be sure that their presence will still be felt. For example, we expect dozens of new devices that are “Alexa-enabled” to appear on the show floor. Ever since Amazon Web Services opened up Alexa to the developer community in 2015, voice-enabled devices have really taken off and Alexa has been endowed with hundreds of new “skills.” At CES, we expect to see a wide range of voice-enabled smart speakers and IoT devices, “Made for HomeKit” sensors and devices, more private and hybrid cloud products, and a continued push into VR, AI and live streaming. Continue reading Top Platforms, Enabling Technologies Expected to Impact CES

Facebook, Universal Music Ink Licensing Deal for User Videos

Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record company, has licensed its music catalog to Facebook. The deal, which focuses on the music in user-generated videos, covers songs that will be used in the background on videos and so-called social experiences on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Oculus. For Facebook, the deal is aimed at encouraging users to post more videos, key to the company’s current video-centric strategy. A day before this deal was struck, Universal also reached an agreement with YouTube. Continue reading Facebook, Universal Music Ink Licensing Deal for User Videos

Facebook’s Facial Recognition Features Spur Privacy Debate

Facebook is debuting facial recognition that will automatically notify users when their photo is posted; the feature is part of the social media company’s answer to criticisms from European regulators, the U.S. and elsewhere that it is disseminating fake news and hate speech, as well as not respecting privacy rights. The feature is based on technology already in use to suggest tags for people in posted photos. Although the company hopes it could help combat some abuses, it may raise more privacy issues. Continue reading Facebook’s Facial Recognition Features Spur Privacy Debate

Artificial Intelligence at CES 2018: Expect More of the Same

If measured in press impressions, 2017 has most definitely been the “Year of AI,” But looking past the hype, a few things are clear: 1) progress in actual machine intelligence capability has been slow and fragmented; 2) applied AI is still the domain of less than 20 companies; and 3) still, machine learning (not AI) is being deployed across enterprise domains of numerous business sectors and creating big value. Similarly, and since it will take another year or two for current advances in machine learning to trickle down to the consumer sector, we’re not really expecting much breakthrough in AI or even machine learning at CES 2018. Continue reading Artificial Intelligence at CES 2018: Expect More of the Same

Facebook Adjusts Video Strategy to Favor Long-Form Content

Facebook raised the requirements for inserting advertisements in videos posted on its site and is tweaking its News Feed algorithm to favor pages whose videos draw regular viewers. In doing so, Facebook is buoying the value of longer videos and strengthening its Watch service, but both moves are also potentially frustrating for video publishers already concerned with poor financial returns. Producers’ short videos perform well in the News Feed and longer form videos will require them to expend more resources. Continue reading Facebook Adjusts Video Strategy to Favor Long-Form Content

Facebook Builds Watch Audience with WWE and Vice Series

Facebook is building audiences for its new Watch video platform with a strategic series of deals and productions. The social media platform nabbed exclusive rights to “Mixed Match Challenge,” a 12-episode 20-minute live weekly show from WWE that it will begin streaming on January 16 in the U.S. only. The ad-free series is an elimination, tag-team tournament that matches male and female stars from “Raw” and “SmackDown Live.” Facebook also ordered three original weekly series from Vice Media, all of them unscripted. Continue reading Facebook Builds Watch Audience with WWE and Vice Series

Snapchat Users Can Now Create World Lenses with AR Tool

Snapchat launched its Lens Studio AR developer tool for desktop that enables users to build augmented reality experiences for the platform. Anyone can now create World Lenses for adding interactive 3D objects to photos and video content. “But brands, news publishers and developers will have to promote their own Lenses by marketing their QR Snapcodes that users scan to unlock an AR effect for 24 hours,” reports TechCrunch. “That’s because Snapchat won’t display these Community Lenses in its camera unless businesses pay a partnered creative agency to build them a special effect and then buy Sponsored Lens ads from Snap.” Continue reading Snapchat Users Can Now Create World Lenses with AR Tool

FCC Votes 3-2 to Roll Back 2015 Net Neutrality Regulations

As anticipated, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 along party lines yesterday to repeal the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules, which were originally introduced to help protect an open Internet. FCC chair Ajit Pai and two other Republicans backed the change. Net neutrality rules were created as a means of regulating how broadband providers treat Internet traffic in an effort to avoid slowing content delivery or providing fast lanes for specific services. Dismantling the rules is seen as a win for cable and wireless providers and will likely result in lawsuits. Continue reading FCC Votes 3-2 to Roll Back 2015 Net Neutrality Regulations

Twitter Displays View Counts to Encourage More Video Posts

Twitter will begin to post how many views each video receives, a policy already enacted by Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. View counts will include videos that brands post organically and also run as ads, but not pre-roll ads. In 2014, when Facebook began publicly displaying view counts, brands and publishers saw that their videos had millions of views and thus increased the number of videos and video ads they ran. Twitter hopes for a similar response if their view counts are comparable. Continue reading Twitter Displays View Counts to Encourage More Video Posts

Facebook Promotes AR Features with Platform Wide Release

After testing out AR face masks with selected outside developers, Facebook is now rolling out its Camera Effects Platform to any outside developer to build AR features for its in-app camera. HBO used it to build masks for “Game of Thrones” fans to become the Night King, and Lucasfilm used it so “Star Wars” fans could become Kylo Ren. With the wide introduction, we’re likely to see all kinds of AR face masks and effects. Facebook AR Studio, its AR platform, debuts this week and will be live to all in a couple of days. Continue reading Facebook Promotes AR Features with Platform Wide Release

Facebook Adds Instant Games Titles, Multiplayer Video Chat

Since Facebook introduced Instant Games on its Messenger platform, its library has grown to 70 games, including “Tetris,” Blackstorm Labs’ “EverWing” and, now, Rovio Entertainment’s “Angry Birds.” Facebook is also now allowing users to live stream their sessions; when a user goes live in an Instant Game, it will stream to his Facebook page and stay posted when he goes offline. Facebook is also debuting an integrated video chat for multiplayer games, which will initially debut only with Zynga’s “Words With Friends.” Continue reading Facebook Adds Instant Games Titles, Multiplayer Video Chat

Facebook Lifts Ban on Pre-Roll Ads, in Beta Tests for Watch

Facebook has resisted the practice of pre-roll ads. Now, according to knowledgeable advertisers, in a major shift the company says it plans to test such ads for Watch shows. The ban on pre-roll ads came directly from chief executive Mark Zuckerberg who stressed that users came to the site to look at a feed, not watch one specific piece of content. This year, however, Facebook debuted Watch, where TV studios, publishers and celebrities can try to sell advertising against their shows, an ideal format for pre-roll ads. Continue reading Facebook Lifts Ban on Pre-Roll Ads, in Beta Tests for Watch

Google Intends to Advance Machine Learning With its AutoML

In May, research project Google Brain debuted its AutoML artificial intelligence system that can generate its own AIs. Now, Google has unveiled an AutoML project to automate the design of machine learning models using so-called reinforcement learning. In this system, AutoML is a controller neural network that develops a “child” AI network for a specific task. The near-term goal is that AutoML would be able to create a child that outperforms human versions. Down the line, AutoML could improve vision for autonomous vehicles and AI robots. Continue reading Google Intends to Advance Machine Learning With its AutoML

Experts Voice Concern About Facebook’s Social App for Kids

Facebook has introduced Messenger Kids, a new messaging app for children aged 6 to 12, in response to safety concerns from parents about Messenger. Some experts, however, are dubious that children that young should have any social media access at all. Messenger Kids is a standalone chat and messaging app that lets children send texts, messages and videos to contacts that have been approved by parents, who download the app on a child’s tablet or smartphone and control it from their own Facebook accounts. Continue reading Experts Voice Concern About Facebook’s Social App for Kids

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