Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

The FTC and New York attorney general announced yesterday that Google is being fined $170 million following the investigation of YouTube’s alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The investigation claims that Google marketed the video platform to advertisers based on the popularity of channels with younger audiences, and tracked viewing histories of children to serve them ads, without first getting consent of the parents. Google and YouTube will pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York in the largest COPPA fine to date (Congress enacted the law in 1998). Continue reading Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

Google Filters Appropriate Content With YouTube Kids Site

Kid-friendly video content is now available on a dedicated YouTube Kids website that filters content deemed most appropriate based on three different age groups. The site offers a similar experience to the mobile app of the same name. Parents can select age-appropriate videos based on newly listed age groups, track viewing history and flag anything that may be missed by filters. A sign-in option is expected to be added in the future. The filters include “Preschool” (up to age 4), “Younger” (ages 5 to 7) and “Older” (kids over 7). Content is organized by categories including Explore, Gaming, Music and Shows.  Continue reading Google Filters Appropriate Content With YouTube Kids Site

Amazon Will Launch New Echo Dot Kids Edition This Month

Amazon debuted a new version of its Echo Dot Kids Edition and several notable changes to its FreeTime Unlimited subscription service for children’s content. The new Echo Dot for children offers a new fabric case, including two colors — blue and rainbow stripes — both not available for the adult version. It is 70 percent louder than the first version, as is the new Echo Dot. The new Kids Edition will begin shipping June 26 for $69.99, $10 less than the first Kids Edition and will include access to FreeTime Unlimited for one year. Continue reading Amazon Will Launch New Echo Dot Kids Edition This Month

Ticketmaster Combats Ticket Fraud With New SafeTix Tech

It’s common for ticket resellers to use screenshots and photocopies of real tickets to sell in bunches to unknowing ticket buyers. To combat this fraud, Ticketmaster will start using a new technology called SafeTix, which is tied to a ticket holder’s mobile device via an encrypted barcode that refreshes every few seconds. Additionally, SafeTix supports NFC technology that allows fans to enter venues using a “tap and go” experience, and users will soon be able to use SafeTix via Apple Wallet on their iPhones and Apple Watches.

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Amazon Unveils NYC Retail Store for 4+ Star Online Products

Amazon has opened a brick-and-mortar retail store, dubbed Amazon 4-star, in New York City’s Soho neighborhood. Amazon 4-star is so named because it will carry goods — starting off with consumer electronics, kitchen, home, toys, books and games — that shoppers have rated with at least four stars, are sold by top sellers or are “new and trending.” This physical retail store joins Amazon’s 12+ bookstores and a few cashierless Go convenience stores, as well as the Whole Foods grocery stores it acquired. Continue reading Amazon Unveils NYC Retail Store for 4+ Star Online Products

Rokoko Offers Up Motion-Capture Library in Unity Asset Store

Rokoko made its library of professionally produced digital motion capture assets available for purchase in the Unity Asset Store. Its SmartSuit Pro captures an actor’s movements, turning them into data that can be used to animate characters in games and movies. Unity Technologies, which makes the Unity game engine, offers pre-made assets to game developers who are looking to avoid the hefty price of professional motion capture. Assets in The Motion Library are available for as little as $1 and a $10 monthly subscription. Continue reading Rokoko Offers Up Motion-Capture Library in Unity Asset Store

Google Expected to Be Issued Major Antitrust Fine in Europe

The European Commission, executive arm of the European Union, is expected to issue a multibillion-euro antitrust fine against Google, according to insiders. Google will likely be charged with forcing the company’s search and Web browsing tools on manufacturers of Android-equipped mobile devices, which affects Google’s ecosystem and its successful advertising business. In addition to a hefty fine, Google will likely be ordered to make adjustments to its business practices in Europe related to Android, the most widely-deployed mobile operating system in the world. Continue reading Google Expected to Be Issued Major Antitrust Fine in Europe

Amazon Show Mode Converts Fire Tablets into Echo Shows

Amazon is introducing the Show Mode Charging Dock to provide an easy charge for the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 while keeping them propped up. To debut in a software update on July 2, new Show Mode features will also essentially turn these tablets into a portable Echo Show with weather, time, and news displays in addition to hands-free voice control via Alexa. Putting the tablet on the dock, which aligns via magnets, launches Show Mode; the tablet reverts back to its standard tablet interface when the user removes it from the dock. Continue reading Amazon Show Mode Converts Fire Tablets into Echo Shows

Innovators Discuss Immersive Entertainment at LAVA Event

Several AR/VR entrepreneurs — ARwall chief executive Rene Amador, VNTANA chief marketing officer Natascha French, Fulldome.pro chief operating officer Stephen Powers, Flipside chief executive Lesley Klassen, and Talespin chief executive Kyle Jackson — gathered at a LAVA (Los Angeles Venture Association) panel discussion led by Interactive TV Alliance chief executive Allison Dollar. They described their companies’ use cases, defined “immersive entertainment,” and outlined the challenges in growing their businesses. Continue reading Innovators Discuss Immersive Entertainment at LAVA Event

Theme Parks Look to Game IPs for New VR, AR Experiences

Theme parks have a history of adding mobile games and apps such as “Club Penguin Island” and “Disney Magic Kingdom” to allow visitors to continue their experiences outside the park and encourage return visits. Now, augmented reality and virtual reality are opening the door to other game experiences that may make a transition from peoples’ homes into shared immersive environments in the theme park. Currently, VR gaming, with spending set to exceed $7 billion in 2018, is the most popular use case for the new technology. Continue reading Theme Parks Look to Game IPs for New VR, AR Experiences

‘Jurassic World VR Expedition’ Is Coming to Dave & Buster’s

Universal, The Virtual Reality Company (VRC), VRstudios and Dave & Buster’s will debut the largest-ever commercial virtual reality deployment on June 14 when the multiplayer “Jurassic World VR Expedition” comes to 112 Dave & Buster’s entertainment restaurants. Universal’s film “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is slated to open in U.S. theaters on June 22. VRstudios offers the high-end VRcade Attraction Management Platform (AMP) targeted for location-based entertainment sites. Dave & Buster’s executive Kevin Bachus, who co-created the Xbox game console, felt it was a good step for first-time VR users. Continue reading ‘Jurassic World VR Expedition’ Is Coming to Dave & Buster’s

Apple Bashes Facebook, Debuts Rival Social Media Features

Apple, which has criticized Facebook for its data privacy policy, introduced social media features for its new mobile device operating system. The features include group video chat for up to 32 people, tools to share photos with friends and the ability to play augmented reality games with friends. Apple also debuted privacy tools for the Safari browser that limits the data that Facebook and its ilk can gather. Apple made its target clear, with images of Facebook and Instagram in its marketing material. Continue reading Apple Bashes Facebook, Debuts Rival Social Media Features

Access Android Games Immediately With Google Play Instant

The age of instant gratification just got even more addictive thanks to Google’s new Google Play Instant, which comprises Android apps and games that do not need to be installed before people can try them out. The tech giant announced the upgrade at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Available games include Supercell’s “Clash Royale,” Zynga’s “Words with Friends 2,” King’s “Bubble Witch 3 Saga” and Hothead’s “Mighty Battles.” These and more are already available on over 1 billion Android devices.

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Google Maps Helps Develop Real-World Gaming Experiences

Google is enabling game developers to create “Pokémon Go”-like experiences in which game elements are embedded into real-world maps using the new Google Maps API and the Unity game engine. Over 200 games are already in development. Next Games is developing a game based on the popular TV series “The Walking Dead,” and NBCUniversal and Ludia will release a “Jurassic World Alive” location-based game for mobile. Because Google Maps updates in real time, developers can create gaming experiences with a sharp eye on reality.

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Sony Showcases Interactive Hologram Experiences at SXSW

The South by Southwest (SXSW) technology, media and culture conference is taking place in Austin, Texas this week. From March 10-13, Sony invited guests to its WOW Studio, an interactive exhibit blending art and technology that featured displays and prototypes involving spatial audio, AI and robotics, tabletop projection, VR gaming, and more. Sony created interactive augmented reality without the fuss (or added cost) of goggles, glasses or other headgear, and SXSW attendees had the opportunity to participate in immersive hologram experiences.

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