Tech Firms Sign a Cybersecurity Pledge to Protect Customers

Led by tech titans Facebook and Microsoft, more than 30 tech companies have signed a Cybersecurity Tech Accord as part of their efforts to protect customers from cyberattacks and “the misuse of their technology.” According to the agreement, tech companies pledge not to assist governments that initiate attacks against “innocent civilians and enterprises.” Among the signatories are companies that power Internet technology and information infrastructure, including Cisco, Cloudflare, Dell, HP, LinkedIn, Nielsen, Nokia, Oracle, Symantec and VMware. Continue reading Tech Firms Sign a Cybersecurity Pledge to Protect Customers

JPEG Debuts Streaming Video Format for 5G, Wi-Fi Networks

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group), known for its photo standard, released a new video compression standard, JPEG XS, designed to work on next-gen 5G cellular or Wi-Fi networks. The new standard, says JPEG, will work on current computers via a software upgrade and is aimed at streaming lossless video, VR content and games over wireless networks, with lower latency and better energy efficiency. Devices smaller than computers, however, will require a hardware upgrade to support JPEG XS. Continue reading JPEG Debuts Streaming Video Format for 5G, Wi-Fi Networks

Ghostery Goes Open Source and Intros New Business Model

Ghostery, an ad blocker recommended by Edward Snowden, just published all its code on GitHub. The company was acquired last year by Cliqz, “the first browser with integrated privacy protection,” including anti-tracking and anti-phishing. Ghostery’s revenue model has been hard to understand for some users, who opt-in to share data about the ad trackers they find on the web. Ghostery then sells that data to e-commerce websites and other companies, a seeming incongruity with its stated mission. Continue reading Ghostery Goes Open Source and Intros New Business Model

VR Industry Forum Draft Guidelines Push for Open Ecosystem

Over the weekend, the Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VRIF) released its draft VR and 360 video production and distribution guidelines at IBC 2017 in Amsterdam. The draft document begins with an intro section suggesting best practices for VR/360 production, including experiences with three degrees of freedom (3DOF). It then makes specific recommendations for the technical aspects of visual and audio VR/360 content production, media and presentation profiles, and content security. VRIF aims to release the full guidelines, with an emphasis on an open ecosystem, at CES 2018 in January. Continue reading VR Industry Forum Draft Guidelines Push for Open Ecosystem

Google Debuts Software Tools for AR App, Web Developers

Google just released ARCore, software to enable developers to more easily create augmented reality apps. The company took its first step into augmented reality in 2014, when it introduced Tango, its 3D mapping system. But it had a hard time getting Android phone makers to make the necessary hardware upgrades to foster widespread AR adoption. Google now hopes that, rather than expensive hardware upgrades, developers will be more enticed by its software solution for allowing apps and sites to track physical objects and overlay them with virtual images. Continue reading Google Debuts Software Tools for AR App, Web Developers

Amazon Promotes Alexa With SDK, Revenue for Developers

Amazon is going full bore promoting its virtual assistant Alexa. In an effort to make it available on more devices, the company has debuted the Alexa Voice Service Device SDK toolset, which lets developers integrate a fully functional version to their devices, offering speech recognition and all the other Alexa capabilities such as notifications, weather reports, streaming media and thousands of voice apps. Amazon is providing additional incentive to developers by paying those whose voice apps demonstrate customer engagement. Continue reading Amazon Promotes Alexa With SDK, Revenue for Developers

Microsoft Camera Rig Gives HoloLens Developers Video Hack

Microsoft has come up with a new camera rig that allows HoloLens mixed reality app makers to capture video from a HoloLens and make it easier to show a person interacting with that app, something Microsoft dubs “spectator view.” The details of the hardware-software combo were published as open source on the HoloLens’ GitHub page. The HoloLens headset is wireless, which lets the user move around the room freely, and is based on four cameras, lightly tinted lenses and a holographic processing unit. Continue reading Microsoft Camera Rig Gives HoloLens Developers Video Hack

Google Key Transparency Project to Boost Messaging Security

To improve encryption, Google has launched an open source project, Key Transparency, a follow-up to its Certificate Transparency, both of which focus on the need to verify the authenticity of the person or server the user believes he is connecting to. Keybase, a collection of verified users and their “cryptographic credentials” is one solution, but Google now wants to ascertain that the contacts are verified systematically and are privacy-protected, by having the address “double-check” itself. Continue reading Google Key Transparency Project to Boost Messaging Security

OpenAI Rolls Out Virtual World, Google Opens DeepMind Lab

OpenAI, the Elon Musk-supported artificial intelligence lab, just debuted Universe, a virtual world that is a software training ground for everything from games to Web browsers. Universe begins with approximately 1,000 software titles, with games from Valve and Microsoft. OpenAI is also in discussions with Microsoft to add the Project Malmo platform, based on the game “Minecraft,” and hopes to add Google AI lab’s DeepMind Lab environment, which was just made public. The goal is that Universe will help machines develop flexible brainpower. Continue reading OpenAI Rolls Out Virtual World, Google Opens DeepMind Lab

Facebook Open-Sources fastText Tools That Stifle Clickbait

To keep track of the massive amount of data shared on Facebook, the company’s Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) lab created fastText, which offers a variety of techniques that make it more accurate and easy to do. Today, Facebook is making fastText open source, available on GitHub, so developers can use its libraries anywhere. Among the techniques fastText uses are “bag of words” and “subword information.” Facebook will use fastText to cut down on “clickbait,” an ever-present irritation on the Internet. Continue reading Facebook Open-Sources fastText Tools That Stifle Clickbait

Facebook Debuts GitHub Incubator for Open-Source Projects

Last week, when Facebook launched a project — Create React App — to help React developers begin new projects, it became the first to live in the Facebook Incubator on GitHub, the company’s new process for releasing open-source projects. Facebook has already open-sourced almost 400 projects, and, with the Incubator, the company wants to make sure it could manage new programs efficiently and create the best chance for their success. Facebook has hundreds of thousands of followers on GitHub. Continue reading Facebook Debuts GitHub Incubator for Open-Source Projects

Facebook Open-Sources Designs for Surround 360 Camera

Facebook just put the blueprint and software for its 17-lens Surround 360 stereoscopic 3D camera on GitHub, fulfilling a promise the company made earlier to make the camera design, assembly instructions, control software and stitching software available for free. Facebook’s move is seen as an effort to enable more people to create 360-degree immersive videos. By open-sourcing the camera’s construction and operation, developers will be able to create products and speed up the development of the marketplace. Continue reading Facebook Open-Sources Designs for Surround 360 Camera

Google to Explore Using AI Systems to Produce Art and Music

During the Moogfest music and technology fest in North Carolina, Google Brain researcher Douglas Eck outlined a new artificial intelligence research project at Google called Magenta. The group, expected to publicly launch next month, plans to use the company’s machine learning engine TensorFlow to explore new ways that computers and AI systems could be trained to create original art and media such as music or video. The initiative should prove challenging; so far, the most advanced AI systems have struggled to replicate styles of existing artists. Continue reading Google to Explore Using AI Systems to Produce Art and Music

Facebook Open-Sources 360-Degree Camera to Jumpstart VR

Facebook debuted the Facebook Surround 360 camera for 360-degree video and VR at its F8 conference this week. The company will also freely share its hardware schematics and complex stitching software via GitHub this summer. Others share Facebook’s vision of virtual reality, including Nokia, Jaunt and Google, all of which built their own 360-degree cameras. But Facebook, by open-sourcing its plans, says chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, furthers its central mission of connecting everyone in the world. Continue reading Facebook Open-Sources 360-Degree Camera to Jumpstart VR

What Began as April Fool’s Day Joke is Now $49 VR Headset

Google Cardboard is no longer the only inexpensive VR headset around. From Oakland, CA-based hardware collective Next Thing Co. comes Pockulus, a $49 portable game console that consists of a palm-sized computer and 3D-printed facemask. The tiny computer that runs Pockulus is CHIP, which was the company’s successful seller at $9 per unit. The idea to repurpose CHIP as a VR controller was an April Fool’s Day joke that is now a real product. It requires some DIY, mainly 3D printing the bezel that fits the display on the face. Continue reading What Began as April Fool’s Day Joke is Now $49 VR Headset

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