Virtual Reality Avatars May Soon Replace Video Conferencing

Microsoft, Magic Leap, Facebook and other companies are working on technologies that may soon make video conferencing obsolete in favor of wearable face computers that permit VR conferencing. Some idealists picture a future where everyone will communicate via a digital persona, not a huge leap for those already using social networks for professional endeavors. A solution such as AltspaceVR allows the user to create avatars that are “cautiously cartoonish,” rather than going after realism, with customizable skin and eye colors. Continue reading Virtual Reality Avatars May Soon Replace Video Conferencing

Facebook’s Metrics Are Stellar, But Biometrics Spur Lawsuit

Facebook’s net income almost tripled to $1.5 billion and monthly active users hit a record 1.65 billion. But the metric that matters is that users spend an average of 50 minutes a day on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger platforms, up from 40 minutes in 2014. That’s the equivalent of one-sixteenth of most peoples’ waking time, and more time than on any other leisure activity than anything but TV and movies. Facebook, of course, would like people to spend even longer on its sites and that’s behind its latest improvements to News Feed. However, the company is also facing a lawsuit regarding its photo tagging feature and biometric data. Continue reading Facebook’s Metrics Are Stellar, But Biometrics Spur Lawsuit

Siri Creators Introduce Next Generation Digital Assistant Viv

Siri co-founders Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer are getting ready to debut Viv, a new platform and virtual assistant that represents the latest frontier in artificial intelligence. In development for four years, Viv was recently tested by a group of engineers who were able to place an order for several pizzas — without a Google search, phone call or app — and the pizzas were delivered as requested. That success has been repeated with about 50 partners, and will be publicly demonstrated at a major industry event today. Continue reading Siri Creators Introduce Next Generation Digital Assistant Viv

With Video Views Growing, BuzzFeed Inks NBCUniversal Deal

BuzzFeed has grown its monthly content views from 2.8 billion a year ago, to 7 billion today, the majority of which are video views. At the company’s Digital Content NewFronts presentation in New York, chief executive Jonah Peretti, who says BuzzFeed’s content is driven by a deep understanding of its audience, announced a new program with investor NBCUniversal to co-produce video content for brands. The partnership with NBCUniversal began last summer when the media titan invested $200 million in BuzzFeed. Continue reading With Video Views Growing, BuzzFeed Inks NBCUniversal Deal

NBC and Snapchat Sign Landmark Deal for Summer Olympics

For the first time, a U.S. broadcast network is allowing distribution of Olympics highlights off its own platform. Snapchat just inked a deal with NBC to do exactly that for the 2016 Summer Games. The social media app will create a dedicated mobile channel. Content will come both from BuzzFeed, which will curate short clips and behind-the-scenes content to the Snapchat app’s Discover channel, and from Snapchat itself, which will create daily “live stories” from content from NBC, athletes and sports fans at the games. Continue reading NBC and Snapchat Sign Landmark Deal for Summer Olympics

Image Recognition Tech Paving the Way for Future Advances

Image recognition, or computer vision, is the foundation of new opportunities in everything from automotive to advertising. Its growing importance is such that the upcoming LDV Vision Summit, an annual conference on visual technology, is now in its third year. Computer vision has expanded through trends that have benefited other forms of AI, including open source, deep learning technology, easier programming tools and faster, cheaper computing, opening up opportunities for a wide range of businesses. Continue reading Image Recognition Tech Paving the Way for Future Advances

Messaging Service WhatsApp Temporarily Shut Down in Brazil

As the result of a court order, Facebook-owned WhatsApp was shut down in Brazil yesterday. In an effort to obtain user data for a criminal investigation involving drug trafficking, Judge Marcel Maia Montalvão ordered telecoms to suspend the popular messaging service for 72 hours throughout Brazil. In March, Judge Montalvão ordered the arrest of Facebook exec Diego Dzodan, who was briefly taken into custody for refusing to turn over WhatsApp data (a higher court ordered the release of Dzodan after one night). WhatsApp says it has cooperated to the “full extent of [its] ability with local courts.” Continue reading Messaging Service WhatsApp Temporarily Shut Down in Brazil

Experimental Google Feature Allows Direct Content Publishing

In January, Google began testing a new feature allowing media companies, marketers, politicians and others to publish content directly to Google. The content, which can be up to 14,400 characters, contain links and up to 10 images or videos, appears instantly in search results and can be shared via Facebook, Twitter or email. Among those using the feature are Fox News, with political debate content; People.com, with content related to the Oscars; and HBO, which has used it to promote the third season of “Silicon Valley.” Continue reading Experimental Google Feature Allows Direct Content Publishing

Popular Payment Service Venmo Under Federal Investigation

According to an SEC filing, PayPal-owned peer-to-peer payment service Venmo is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission to determine whether the company “engaged in deceptive or unfair practices in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act.” PayPal received a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) from the FTC on March 28. “The CID could lead to an enforcement action and/or one or more consent orders,” explains PayPal, “which may result in substantial costs, including legal fees, fines, penalties, and remediation expenses and actions, and could require us to change aspects of the manner in which we operate Venmo.” Continue reading Popular Payment Service Venmo Under Federal Investigation

Facebook Develops Prototype Camera to Encourage Sharing

Facebook, concerned about the slowdown in users sharing videos, photos and updates, is developing a standalone camera app. Facebook’s “friend-sharing” team has created a prototype that, similar to Snapchat, opens to a camera that also allows users to live stream video. But people familiar with the project say it may never come to fruition. Facebook has built other sharing apps: Slingshot let users trade photos and videos that disappeared in 24 hours; Camera was a photo-editing/sharing app. Neither caught on and were dropped. Continue reading Facebook Develops Prototype Camera to Encourage Sharing

Facebook Credits Mobile Ad Growth for Major Revenue Jump

Following last week’s reports that online advertising revenue in the U.S. reached a record $59.6 billion in 2015, and that Google and Facebook claimed the largest share of the digital advertising pie, social giant Facebook announced yesterday that its ad revenue increased 57 percent in the first quarter to $5.2 billion. Notably, mobile ads represented about four-fifths of the network’s revenue. Facebook’s news countered announcements from other tech companies — including Alphabet, Apple and Twitter — all of which released disappointing first quarter figures. Continue reading Facebook Credits Mobile Ad Growth for Major Revenue Jump

Twitter Hopes to Prove Live-Streaming Value with NFL Games

Twitter reported revenue of $595 million for Q1 2016, below Wall Street expectations, adding to its growing list of woes. User growth, an area of concern since its 2013 IPO, remains modest, with an average 310 million monthly users in Q1 2016, up from 305 in Q4 2015. But most of the growth came from outside the U.S., where markets are less mature and therefore less lucrative. One ray of hope is Twitter’s deal with the NFL to live-stream Thursday Night Football games, which has drawn interest from other sports leagues. Continue reading Twitter Hopes to Prove Live-Streaming Value with NFL Games

Sean Parker’s Airtime Returns as an App for Virtual Viewing

Napster co-founder Sean Parker has relaunched a product that first debuted in 2012 and was almost an immediate flop. Airtime is now an app, for Android and iOS, that lets users gather in a “room” to chat, text and watch YouTube and Vimeo videos together or listen to songs and podcasts from Spotify and SoundCloud. Parker, also an early investor in Facebook, says he created — and now recreated — Airtime to offer an alternative to the “certain loneliness” of the “fast superficial interactions” that form the basis of Facebook. Continue reading Sean Parker’s Airtime Returns as an App for Virtual Viewing

Disney to Produce More VR Content with Nokia OZO Camera

Nokia and Disney announced a partnership whereby Disney filmmakers and marketing teams will use Nokia’s 360-degree OZO virtual reality cameras to create VR content across all the studio’s brands. The studio has already used the OZO for two promotional pieces for “The Jungle Book,” one of them a 360-degree roundtable interview with director Jon Favreau and the cast, the second a red carpet experience at the film’s Los Angeles premiere. Other Disney brands that could use the OZO are Marvel and Lucasfilm. Continue reading Disney to Produce More VR Content with Nokia OZO Camera

Vox Media to Launch Circuit Breaker Gadget Site on Facebook

Vox Media, parent company of politics site Vox, sports sites SB Nation, and technology site The Verge, is about to launch Circuit Breaker, a blog about gadgets. Circuit Breaker will publish news and gossip about technology products and primarily live as a Facebook page, not a separate website, says The Verge’s editor Nilay Patel. The idea of a blog devoted to gadgets is a throwback to sites like Engadget and Gizmodo that, in the early 2000s, focused on smartphones and then broadened to become culture sites. Continue reading Vox Media to Launch Circuit Breaker Gadget Site on Facebook

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