Facebook, Google Continue to Experience Digital Ad Growth

Despite the widespread pushback against their privacy policies and lack of regulation, Facebook and Google are enjoying booming ad sales. According to industry analysts, robust consumer spending and the continued evolution from brick-and-mortars to online shopping is what’s keeping digital ad sales healthy. At online advertising agency Merkle, associate director of research Andy Taylor noted that, despite its woes, Facebook — especially Instagram — continues to do well among advertisers. Continue reading Facebook, Google Continue to Experience Digital Ad Growth

Hamlet 360 and Other Stage Plays Integrate Immersive Tech

Theaters, from the experimental to the commercial, are using augmented reality, 360-degree videography and other new technologies to make their productions more immersive, even on traditional stages. In one recent production, “Hamlet 360,” technical direction by Sensorium transforms the 61-minute Shakespearean play into virtual reality. Another recent example is The Builders Association’s AR-integrated production “Elements of Oz,” where audience members use their cellphones to see a tornado approach Dorothy’s house. Continue reading Hamlet 360 and Other Stage Plays Integrate Immersive Tech

Augmented Reality Drives Need for New Cloud Infrastructure

The potential of augmented reality is massive but despite software development kits including Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore, Amazon Sumerian and Microsoft’s Mixed Reality ecosystem, actual implementations have been limited. That’s because the current cloud infrastructure constrains actual consumer-facing AR projects. The popularity of “Pokémon Go” in summer of 2016 was an example of that; at the first Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago, 20,000 players experienced slowdowns and outages due to constrained network bandwidth. Continue reading Augmented Reality Drives Need for New Cloud Infrastructure

Dropbox, Google and Sony Debut Tech at Sundance Festival

At the Sundance Film Festival, tech companies now pitch new tools to the M&E industry. This year, Dropbox is offering a time-based commenting feature for video files, and Google and Sony are open-sourcing a tool that will simplify cloud rendering. Dropbox’s new feature will aid audio and video review by adding time-based commenting. Google, in partnership with Sony Picture Imageworks, will introduce OpenCue, which breaks down rendering steps and then schedules and manages the job across rendering farms. Continue reading Dropbox, Google and Sony Debut Tech at Sundance Festival

Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plans to integrate the company’s Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp messaging apps. According to those familiar with the plan, the three services will continue operating as standalone apps, but their tech infrastructure will be stitched together. For the first time, the messaging networks’ 2.6 billion global users will be able to communicate across platforms. The initiative is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early 2020. It will require teams to significantly reconfigure functionality of all three services and will include new end-to-end encryption. Continue reading Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facing EU Copyright Law, Google May Remove News Service

In light of the fact that the European Union’s Copyright Directive may soon give publishers the right to demand payment when portions of their articles appear in news search results, Google is considering ceasing its Google News service in Europe. Although the law is not yet finalized, Google public policy manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa Jennifer Bernal stated that the company could reluctantly quit Europe after it has the chance to do a close examination of the proposed law’s details. Continue reading Facing EU Copyright Law, Google May Remove News Service

India Is YouTube’s No. 1 Audience with 250M Monthly Viewers

According to App Annie, in 2018 India was the country with YouTube’s biggest audience. As 4G rates in that country are below $2 per month, Indians are now streaming mobile video at rates that are 10 times and billions of hours more per year than in the last three years. Research by global consulting firm Analysys Mason boils that down to 85 gigabytes of data, potentially more than 40 hours of video per month without using Wi-Fi, more than rates in the U.S., China or Japan. The mobile video usage is transforming Indian media. Continue reading India Is YouTube’s No. 1 Audience with 250M Monthly Viewers

Google Fined 50 Million Euros Under EU’s New Privacy Laws

Google and Facebook had a rough 2018 regarding data privacy, but the advertisers haven’t abandoned the two tech giants and their profits continue to soar. This year may be even tougher as concern about privacy grows. In fact, French regulators levied a 50 million Euro (about $57 million) fine on Google, for not clearly disclosing how data collected across its sites are used to personalize ads. Experts believe the behavior of big tech companies will be a “major topic” at the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Continue reading Google Fined 50 Million Euros Under EU’s New Privacy Laws

Voice Tech Adoption Reaches Beyond Smart Homes to Autos

Together, Amazon and Google claim about 85 percent of the smart speakers currently installed in U.S. households. In the wake of a successful holiday shopping season, the number of smart speakers in the U.S. has climbed to around 119 million. And while Amazon and Google battled for dominance at CES with voice assistant support featured in a growing array of devices and services, a new survey from Voicebot.ai suggests that voice assistants may be more habit-forming in vehicles than via smartphones. The voice tech publication found that 77 million adults use such assistants in their vehicles at least monthly, and companies are taking notice. Continue reading Voice Tech Adoption Reaches Beyond Smart Homes to Autos

Verizon and Amazon Planning New Services to Stream Games

Streaming games are in the news, with Verizon in alpha tests of its Verizon Gaming, reportedly currently running on the Nvidia Shield set-top box and, eventually, Android smartphones. Verizon Gaming can be played using a paired Xbox One controller. Verizon has been recruiting players for its alpha test of the service, which offers 135 games. On the heels of Razer announcing it would integrate Amazon Alexa into its gaming platform, The Information revealed that Amazon is now developing its own streaming game service. Continue reading Verizon and Amazon Planning New Services to Stream Games

Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service

Amazon launched Freedive, a free, ad-supported streaming video channel on its Internet Movie Database (IMDb) site, featuring 130 movies and 29 TV shows licensed from CBS, NBCUniversal Television, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. Television and others. Movies include “Awakenings,” “A Few Good Men,” “Adaptation,” “Memento,” “True Romance,” “The Last Samurai” — and TV shows include “Fringe,” “The Bachelor,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Duck Dynasty,” “Quantum Leap,” “Born This Way,” “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Without a Trace.” Continue reading Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service

Judging Current State of Amazon and Google Rivalry at CES

At CES 2019, in what some are saying has become an annual battle in recent years, Amazon and Google went mano a mano, with the former’s Alexa voice assistant in one corner, and the latter’s Google Assistant in the other. Since the debut of the voice assistants, this sector’s importance has soared, and both companies have been jockeying for dominance. Amazon stated that more than 100 million Alexa devices have been sold, while Google said its Assistant will be built into one billion devices by the end of the month. Continue reading Judging Current State of Amazon and Google Rivalry at CES

CES Panel: The Evolution of Cloud-Streaming Games With 5G

GameSpot editor-in-chief Randolph Ramsay moderated a panel of game industry experts discussing how 5G will change that industry. “5G’s high speed and low latency will be the next big disruption,” he said. Blade Group platform evangelist Bill Rehbock spoke about his company’s Shadow PC streaming service, which provides a complete Windows 10 PC to users. “5G picks up with a minimum of where 4G left off,” he said. “5G makes hand-over [from tower to tower] so robust it will be an enabling technology.” Continue reading CES Panel: The Evolution of Cloud-Streaming Games With 5G

Highlights From the AR/VR Think Tank Sessions at CES 2019

During the AR/VR Think Tank panel and subsequent panels on gaming and LBE (Location-Based Entertainment) at CES this week, representatives of production and tool companies put the current state of the medium in a broader context. We are past the initial “everything should be shot in 360” stage, and are now asking, “what are you trying to say?” Ultimately the experience must be purpose-driven. Game developer Don Daglow noted that killer apps usually happen by accident when someone’s passion taps into an unrecognized mass market demand. He noted that VisiCalc was a killer app for the PC, for example. Continue reading Highlights From the AR/VR Think Tank Sessions at CES 2019

CES Panel: Impact of Evolving Tech on Autonomous Vehicles

Faye Francy, executive director of the Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Auto-ISAC), led a conversation about the impact of machine learning, deep learning and AI on the autonomous vehicle (AV) ecosystem. “They work together to bring great things — and possibly nefarious things — to the auto industry,” she said. Inivision AI chairman Seamus Hatch noted that the three terms aren’t interchangeable. “We’re many years behind the singularity,” he said. “It’s a machine trained to solve a specific problem faster and more accurately than a human.” Continue reading CES Panel: Impact of Evolving Tech on Autonomous Vehicles

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